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Rumble Tumble: Childhood Rebellion\

AntoniaAC's picture

A push away from societal norms, familial influences, and conformity rebellion is a mandatory quality that children develop. Through alternative forms of play children challenge comfort zones and the common mentality of the good, the bad, and the ugly.   In “Interrogating teleological understandings of play in spaces of material alterity and low surveillance” by Tim Edensor, Bethan Evans, Julian Hotloway, Steve Millington and Jon Binnie, the five authors grapple with the conception of conventional childhood play through modern urbanization. Mirrored with childhood deviance, the article tackles the need for unsupervised creativity in unorthodox ways. Similarly, Amanda depicts in her narrative “Play Next Door,” the desire to break free from stereotypical play in order to find her own identity apart from her mother’s scrutinizing eyes. Both pieces redefine the idea of play by pointing out a child’s need for rebellion during the growth process while simultaneously hold true to play’s fundamental functions of inciting development and joy for the child.  

In opposition to a fast growing technological society, play has shifted into an abnormal need for deviance and unique self expression-- a response to conformity.  The concept of play has vast definitions and is often interpreted differently among people because of its connection to the personal imagination. Traditional associations of play are the doll house and the toy soldier, but as society shift from a suburban setting into a more urban landscape play also has shifted focus. Critics of industrial play site the lack a of “health and safety', systematic surveillance and material maintenance,” as “hedonistic,” and unwholesome. This type of industrial play is often thought to rough edged and illicit because it gives children free range for exploration and access to more matured material; drug, sex, and violence.  However, what is failed to seen are the positivity in these qualities. Play in a developing urban landscape creates infinite world of adventure and provide children with the forum to self identify and rebel against predestined roles that these children have been born into.

The quintessential values of play are not disturbed, but when urbanization becomes part of the equation the expression of play varies and arguably the significance of it.  In the article by Edensor, “Bateson [states] when 'people talk about play, they tend to say what it is not - ‘it is not real’ or ‘it is not serious’ and then the rest of the sentence gets rather vague when the speaker realizes that ‘play is serious’” (Edensor). Play, surfacely, seems a merely form of entertainment but in reality the act of playing and interacting has a resounding effect on childhood development because it takes part in the “process of learning and 'trying on roles' for future adult life” (Edensor). The fact is not that kids are not playing, rather their methods of play are evolving and talking on the shape of the external, accessible surroundings that they are being raised in. Children’s minimalist tendencies for play is exemplified through Amanda’s need for “her crumbling… park” with is rundown equipment and rebellious diversion for her mother's standards of a proper playset (Simone). Through the “decay” of traditional morals there is creation when children seek an unadulterated form of play. Prompted by the modernized setting  and presented with an opportunity for risk, courage, and questions children develop a strong sense of individuality.

Amanda’s mother bowdlerized Amanda’s play for “safety angle” and as a result bulldozed the space that prompted her daughter’s creativity.  Fortunately, Amanda even on the new play equipment found her own creative freedom by “ignoring the intended function of each piece to use it in the least safe way possible.” This inherent need for rebellion is synonymous with the “wild” that is claimed by the Edensor (and others) to inspire “bravery” and nonconformity. Similarly, Amanda’s creativity was sparked by the first play sets deterioration and when the it replaced her destruction of its natural function was in away an attempt to break from norms. Retrospectively, she sees this subtle act as a means of playful pursuit to make her “happy.” However, through a “Playing in the Ruins” perspective,  Amanda’s desire to find entertainment in the gritty “neighborhood paradise” hints at an underlying act of insubordination against her mother’s will.

Provoked by independence children learn mental strength which is applicable to their future as an adult. This is not assessment of Amanda’s leadership but rather her self reliance and ability to reject preconceived notions set in place by authority and creates a sense of rebellion from those institutionalize norms. Her experience, in contrast to the urbanized child (city kid), indeed has a different setting but the thought process and development remain a concurrent theme in both articles. The importance of rebellion, regardless of environment, is to ensure future adults are not compliant in a mindless way. Free thinking matures into critical thinking and this development in a child of being evaluat ideas without blatant acceptance is key to a progressive society.  Children raised in urban environments or, in a similar vein, allowed to question social norms creates a defiant generation. This need for a  “new” generation of critical, independent thinkers becomes  a necessity stemming  from the 21st centuries massive inequalities. By molding the minds of the children into believe as in congruently with their parents, progress and further development becomes stagnant and, ultimately, not existent.


Works Cited

Simone, Amanda. “Play Next Door.” Serendip. September, 2016. Web. 23 September 2016.

Tim Edensor, Bethan Evans, Julian Holloway, Steve Millington and Jon Binnie. Playing

in Industrial Ruins: Interrogating Teleological Understandings of Play in Spaces

Of Material Alterity and Low Surveillance. Urban Wildscapes. Ed. Anna

Jorgensen and Richard Keenan. New York: Routledge, 2011. 65-79.