Joe L. Frost is Parker Centennial Professor Emeritus at the University of Texas, Austin, and one of America’s leading experts on play and playgrounds. In addition to having taught child development and early childhood education at Texas and several other universities, he has written or edited fifteen university-level textbooks and more than one hundred articles and reports, lectured throughout the world, and served as a consultant to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and myriad cities, schools, universities, hospitals, and public park systems. He served as president of the Association for Childhood Education International and of the International Play Association USA and continues to direct research at the University of Texas Play and Play Environments Research Project. Here Frost talks about what sparked his lifelong interest in playgrounds, their evolution over the last half century, their current state, lawsuits and other factors that influence the way children play outdoors today, and current trends in playground design and development. He also makes recommendations for correcting inconsistencies in state and federal playground safety standards and regulations.
Volume 1, Number 2
This essay describes a range of perspectives and concerns that inform scholarly understandings of play. Along the way, the author explores issues and controversies within a series of five questions: What kind of “thing” is play? Is play morally good? Is play functional? Is play rational? Is play more “free” than other human activities? After describing the diversity of opinion about the subject and noting that play scholars typically reach some sort of working definition for play, the author pays particular attention to the work of Brian Sutton-Smith. The author then offers his own conclusions concerning the nature of play. Following Johan Huizinga, he understands play as either a pattern of individual action or a pattern of interaction, the first distinguished by its qualities of transformation and consummation, the second by contests and unpredictable outcomes. However, any definition of play, he cautions, should celebrate the diversity outlined here.
Some devalue recess because they assume it to be a waste of time. There is no theory or empirical evidence to support this point of view. There is, however, abundant and clear evidence that recess has beneficial effects on children’s social competence and academic performance. The author tells how his interest in standardized tests led him to years of recess study, compares recess survey findings in the United States to those in the United Kingdom, and summarizes the benefits of recess for school performance.
Biology and the particular gun culture of the United States come together to explain the persistent and powerful attraction of American boys to both real guns and toy guns. The 1990s saw adults begin to conflate “the gun problem” with “the boy problem,” sparking attempts (largely failed) to banish toy guns from homes and schools. Following the approach of play scholar Gregory Bateson, this article offers an understanding of play with guns, maintains this moral panic about boys and gun play is unfounded, and suggests some developmental and other benefits from boys’ play with guns.
Play therapy is an effective means of responding to the mental health needs of young children and is widely accepted as a valuable and developmentally appropriate intervention. The authors discuss the importance of play in development, the therapeutic benefits of play, the rich history of play therapy, and recent research and current issues and trends in the field, including the need for more mental health professionals trained to work with children.
The author builds on arguments he has made elsewhere that good commercial video games foster deep learning and problem solving and that such games in fact promote mastery as a form of play. Here he maintains that some good video games engage players with an important type of play, namely of play as discovery, of play as surmising new possibilities in a given environment. The game Portal exemplifies this form of play, a form designed to give players a smart tool that enables them to see these new possibilities and use them in innovative ways. The author concludes with a discussion beyond games of young people using smart tools to become Pro-Ams, that is, amateur experts at something for which they have developed a passion.
James Paul Gee, Good Video Games + Good Learning: Collected Essays on Video Games, Learning, and Literacy and "Don't Bother Me Mom—I'm Learning!": How Computer and Video Games Are Preparing Your Kids for Twenty–first Century Success—and How You Can Help!
Doris Pronin Fromberg and Doris Bergen, eds., Play from Birth to Twelve: Contexts, Perspectives, and Meanings
Artin Göncü and Suzanne Gaskins, eds., Play and Development: Evolutionary, Sociocultural, and Functional Perspectives
Robyn M. Holmes
- James Paul Gee
- Thomas S. Henricks
- Linda E. Homeyer & Mary O. Morrison
- Jay Mechling
- Anthony D. Pelligrini