22 April 2018 ............... Length about 900 words (9,000 bytes).
(Document started on 22 April 2018.)
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[Play, ethics, morality]
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[Early informal learning]
Play, ethics, morality
Department of Psychology,
University of Glasgow.
This web page is related to a CCSE reading group meeting on Monday 23 April
2018 (1pm SAW-423).
Although Vic's title was "playfulness, ethics, morality", his summary statement
makes it clear he is dealing with not three but at least eight related topics:
|| Ethics of research|
There are two groups to the ideas here:
- Fun, Play, Creativity
- Methodology, Methods, Interdisciplinarity, (and ethics).
Fun, Play, Creativity
- Doing and learning.
All human actions result in both "doing" (changing the state of the
world) AND "learning" some information or skill or knowledge.
But most actions have one as the main goal, and the other only as an
incidental side-effect. Cuban factory workers rolling cigars were still
getting faster (very slightly) after tens of thousands of cigars. When I
learn I nearly always consume paper and pens, or computer time and printer
paper; even sitting and thinking consumes glucose and oxygen in the brain and
gradually makes me tired out.
- Information goals may be sought in a variety of ways: asking people,
looking up something in a book, trying all 120 combinations of the lock on the
front door because you forgot what it is (exhaustive trial and error), working
it out from what you know already, ....
- Undefined information goals: where you don't know what you need to know.
Play however may or may not have a defined question. What is on the other
side of the hill?
Being driven by a desire to learn, at both important and trivial levels,
comes in two flavours: learning with a defined goal (ILO) OR ELSE
learning just to find something out, without that in turn being driven by an
Is this, or is it not, the difference between learning with or without a
curriculum? (This was Papert's definition of the learning/development which
was Piaget's focus: learning without curriculum; which is pretty much exactly
learning naturally vs. learning in schools.)
Play is a particular type (subset) of information goal: finding out by
enacting the question "What if ...?": doing something to see what happens.
Play is activity defined by a process (not an end-product) which is
undertaken to discover what the result will be (not for the material result
itself, if any). This is true of sport (finding out which team will in fact
win), of walking to the top of a hill to see what's on the other side, running
a simulation, putting on a seminar based on four random ideas, and seeing
whether you can spin a story to connect them, and whether the audience will
swallow it, ....
- Computer programming by trying things out is play: but strongly
discouraged by some teachers. Just as school teachers do their very best to
take the play out of learning John Gatto.
- Play and creativity.
My summary (much like Boden's) would be that creativity must have:
- Human agency (as its cause)
We don't normally say a sunset (after a volcanic eruption, say)
is creative, however surprising, novel, and pleasurable it may be
(i.e. of value to people)
- Novelty (as a matter of history)
Two major varieties of this:
Novelty without value is not wanted (e.g. the splash a dropped meal
makes on the floor). Even being novel and useful but pedestrian is what we
require from employees following rules, and is not enough for "creativity",
so surprise is also required.
(N.B. surprise entails novelty, but not vice versa.)
- Original in the whole history of your culture.
- New just to you i.e. constructivist learning just by you.
- Surprise (the result is contrary to expectations).
A match to "play": which is doing to find out what happens, not doing
something where you know in advance what the outcome will be.
Boden's view (and mine too) is that creativity consists of generating a new
combination of old elements. This seems a close match to play: not exhaustive
search of all combinations, but trying out combinations.
- Play and learning (education).
Play will result in discovery i.e. learning, but is often undertaken for other
reasons (e.g. fun) than extrinsically motivated learning. Similarly, much
learning does not involve play, still less fun.
Much learning cannot be done through play. But nevertheless it is also true
that sometimes play (and play that is fun) can be used in organised education.
Alison Phipps (2001)
GU lib. record=b1987469.
- Play and video games
- Play and fun.
I want to say:
- Methods (techniques) → Discoveries → Ideas.
- Techniques and methods: larger and smaller scale labels for procedures
that underpin the important work in any area. And which change in time.
- On a larger scale they tend to characterise disciplines; on the smaller,
major advances and changes in one discipline.
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