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Play Can Be Risky

Iridium's picture

      Henig’s “Taking Play Seriously” assures the main positive effects of play on aspects of neurological growth and physical preparation in response of future but misses to develop deeply on the negative “side effects” of play.

       From dorothy kim’s post on Serendip, her recalls of childhood reflect most parents’ concern- kids get too much time for play. There is also arguments about time dispensed on play that “psychologists complain that overscheduled kids have no time left for the real business of childhood: idle, creative, unstructured free play.”(Henig, 1) However, what parents worry about is not exactly the time amount their kids put into play, but the “direction”, which I refer abstractly, kids are playing towards.

       What I am trying to elaborate in rhetoric about the relationship and attribution of play time amount and play’s “direction” with is a vector. As defined in mathematical and scientific field, vector consists of direction and magnitude. Vectors in coordinate system can be written in unit vectors parallel to each axis. In a vector’s expression, not only coefficients placed before unit vectors matters, but positive sign and negative sign also play important roles. Even if there is only one negative sign in an expression, it can bring all the efforts by positive portions a little back to the original point (0, 0).

       I do not like the sarcastic way Henig’s reference use in developing ideas that many parents fasten their children’s seat belt and rush on the road called “resume building.”(Henig, 2) Parents do “take play seriously,” as his title says. Parents even take their dears’ life seriously. It is true that very adult grew from a baby. Even though childhood for them was very long ago, adults do hold the belief that children need play time. Their characters involving into play time negotiation with kids are experienced grown-ups. They know how to add positive unit vectors into their kids’ vectors, and avoid negative signs appearing. For considerable grown-ups, playing physical games is a way of developing the related region of brain; however, taking piano lesson is a way of exploiting left and right brain as well. Physical games pull the vector along the positive direction of physical-axis, and art classes guide the same vector along the positive direction of artistic-axis. The vector of individual development is pointing to a positive direction and its magnitude is adding up. So what point does it make by saying so-called “resume building” intervene with self-development?

     Unavoidable dark side of play is also a factor that parents prevent their kids from overdosing play. Here I will verbatim Henig’s description about the dark side of play. “Play can be dangerous or scary. It can be disturbing, destabilizing, and aggressive. It can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings, leaving children out of the charmed circle of the schoolyard. The other side of playing is teasing, bullying, scapegoating, excluding, hurting.”(Henig, 17) Playing is getting touch with the unknown outside world. Children, who do not have enough ability to distinguish goodness and badness, may meet kind nanny giving them fresh baked banana toast, may snatched by kidnappers by a fashionable toy, may robbed by upper-class bully at a corner of the school, and may get injured while venturing in low surveillance area.

     Not only physical activities are potentially dangerous, intellectual sense of play can also have a tendency to pull the “vector” with a negative-towards force. Books, videos, and broadcastings.etc serve as intellectual devices but definitely not all of them are exactly correct (despite the truths that nothing is forever correct.) There may some mistaken information delivered into these kinds of media and people who read about take the message. There may some information not very clearly expressed and people get totally wrong feedback. Risks are everywhere.

     Social activities which dorothy kim introduce as the last form of play are not excluded as well. Since internet prevail the world, for example, internet violence has appeared as a new form of violence. A huge population suicide for what they got treated on the internet. Don’t mention bullying and cursing which can be seen as daily routine. Even though Teju Cole made a post sharing his own opinion, his speech incurs tons of nasty interpretations. Everything applies to the realistic world also applies to this virtual world. Bad negative unit vectors just hide at every corner, hunting for “preys” and drag them to their direction.

     Taking play seriously, because play is not only a helpful activity but also a risky one.


Work Cited

Henig, Robin. "Taking Play Seriously." New York Times. 17 Feb. 2008.