понедельник, 27 февраля 2017 г.

Сhildren's Play Activity through the Paradigm of Sociological Imagination (Part 5). Conclusions.

The Process of Play as the Process of Social Becoming 
We often meet with the assumptions that play is defined by freedom; play is not connected with a social reality; play is irrational and play exists in the limited time and space. But if we recollect some forms of play we will deny the isolation of play in the social world.
A lot of scientists tried to explain the meaning of play as the atavism.  But according to the theory of William Stern (cited by Vygotsky, 1984), play can be understood through its connection not only with the past but with the future. Play is the preparation for the future life, this activity is interconnected with the process of social becoming.
Let's consider several examples, which illustrate how play and games are changing according to the change of a social context and a social inquiry.
1. Hopscotch is one of the games most recognisable by children (Sibireva, 2014). In a modern world (especially in big cities where there are a lot of asphalt roads) hopscotch does not demand anything except a chalk.
But the hopscotch had a lot of meanings during its existence.
One of the meanings is connected with religion.
According to the literature (Caillois, 2001; Chech, 2003), for a long time the hopscotch had a specific meaning of ‘the travel of a soul' – the soul (in the classic interpretation it is a small stone) had to reach the ‘paradise' (the last square of the drawn hopscotch). It is interesting that ‘in Italian versions of the game the last three squares were called, with a bow in the direction of the Italian national poet, Dante: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso' (Chech, 2003). 
I assume we can notice the analogies with the described interpretation in the modern version of this game: the child must allow the friend to play if the stone has not fallen in the corresponding square or the jumps have been outside the drawn squares. The main sense of these instructions is that you must not break the rules; otherwise, the game will stop for you.
The other meaning is connected with the preparation of the healthy men, who will be able to participate in the wars.
Some researches claim that the hopscotch has been invented by the Romans, to train their army. The soldiers should hop through the courses, which would be 100 feet in length, in full armour to build their endurance and keep them fit (Play and Playground Encyclopedia).

This game appeared in Russia during the 19th century. It was also the game of boys. In the description of this game, we can find that the games with jumps like hopscotch were strongly recommended because these games helped to develop physical forces and muscles (Pokrovsky, 1895). This game was also popular during the 20th century, but after the Second World War, this game was more associated with girls.
In the modernity, there is also a modification of this game, which is used by some mathematic schools:

 It may be the preparation for the future life because we live in the conditions of the economics of knowledge.
Due to the hopscotch, we can see some training of children through play for the social reality:
when hopscotch was associated with religion, even the form of this game has changed according to the schemes of the cathedrals (Callois, 2001); and this game had a corresponding sense;
when there were a lot of wars, the hopscotch and the other games with jumps were considered as the training of muscles, physical forces, endurance. And during the after war periods this game was becoming female because the spirit of militarism was disappearing;
when there is an ‘information war’, the ability to solve tasks is being appreciated.
2. Children's games with songs and dances also have their history. During several centuries they were 'natural', because children spent a lot of time with adults (women), even if they worked. Adults accompanied their actions by the singing (the work was connected with the sewing, knitting, etc.) because it helped to support physical health. Pleasure and the monotony of life and labour were the prevailing motives owing to which songs were the satellites of many children's games (Pokrovsky, 1895). Such games with songs and dances helped not only to support physical health but to establish the deep interconnection between generations.
A social context has changed. Such type of games is not popular now (Sibireva, 2014).
Firstly, singing and dancing are being professionalised. The society inquires professionals in these spheres, even if these professionals are young children. Secondly, it is easy to track the trend of individualisation in the modern world. According to the results of the participant observation, children have very few uniting collective games.
 Scientific researches, architectural explorations are directed on the searches of an optimum place and the best materials for the play of preschool children and teenagers. But the practice shows that a playground equipped with a swing, small houses, turnstiles, etc. does not contain all components which are necessary for the useful and pleasant pastime of the child. Unfortunately, we often meet with a sad reality: there are no children on a good children's playground. Children can explain this fact: «There are no friends here», "Boringly", and «There is no sense to play». The main factors inducing children to play on a playground are the communications and the presence of children's collective. But according to my research, in the pictures of children and their interviews, there is a catastrophically small percent of friends and peers (only 9 %). Peers and friends are crucial agents of socialisation of each child, whose influence on the child is not less than the influence of the significant adults (Sibireva, 2016). 
The considered examples of games give us an opportunity to analyse the inquiry of society because the change and the disappearance of games are connected with the social circumstances. And, certainly, it is impossible to avoid in this analysis the technologies and their role in children's play and games, since technologies are the agents of socialisation of modern children.
Certainly, the adults play a significant role in the choice of the children of concrete games, but the children play an active role when engaging with technology, and they do it in their way (Elvstrand, Hellberg, Hallstrom, 2012).
There is an important fact in my research, the most of the respondents could define the boy who is playing computer games in the picture; they also mentioned the titles of computer games. It is not surprising because the person, who can use a computer, is demanded in the modern world. But an ‘alive’ play (outdoor, mainly) has more value for the children of young age (Sibireva, 2014). 
The play and games with the preparation of the children for the future life help us to understand what we can expect from the children. The new play and games, the disappearing play and games are deeply interconnected with the process of a social becoming, provoke us to think about the tendencies in the development of the generation of children, reveal existing problems and think out new decisions of these difficulties.
Summing up the said above, it is necessary to make the following concluding observations.
When we try to learn play as the main part of socialisation process of children from the point of view of sociological imagination, we can see play as a 'mirror' of our adult world.
The theoretical approach and the examples I use above can be taken as the starting point to understand how to combine everyday lives of children and a sociocultural context. Tracking play of children sociologically is a method of linking the personal life and the social life, the personal life and the historical context. 
Children are active social agents during play. They can keep the traditions; they can revolt against existing trends. A power relationship inside children’s play and games, some games with the preparation of the child for the future life help us to understand what we can expect from the modern children.
Children’s play and games may be seen as a key to unlock invisible mechanisms of the essence of the concrete part of the social life.
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 is here.
Part 3 is here.
Part 4 is here.
Please do not sell, post, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.

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