I’ve never really been into ‘clubbing’ or dancing for that matter as I’ve little bodily coordination or self-rhythm, so I’ve tended to avoid clubs as best I can. Even more of a reason is that clubs are often full of people who probably should have gone home earlier than they chose to...
There’s a YouTube video doing the rounds currently comparing modern day clubbing to that of 1990. The difference is pretty clear! Arguably the 2018 video doesn’t really suggest it’s a club as such, it looks more like a upcycled house party but that’s by the by. The video is here:
What is so striking about the 2018 video is the interactions between the young people. If you look, the majority of them are on their phones either taking selfies or messaging. In the 1990s video there is a sense of collectivity and connectivity - it feels like there’s a union between people brought together by something outside themselves, an energy that is combining people in a common purpose in a specific moment. They are present.
Fast forward to 2018 and the people dancing are all seemingly at mixed purposes. There’s little unity, certainly no collective bond and there seems to be scant energy. Yes, I’m sure they were enjoying themselves but for me, what struck me most was how in the space of 28 years our concept of what creates connectivity has changed beyond recognition. The phone companies have brilliantly sold a dream about connection through mobiles - they’ve told us that we can be closer, more popular, more relevant, and more alive but in some ways the opposite is actually true. I’d say that the 2018 shots sum up how little we live in the present.
Being ‘present’ is perhaps the very definition of childhood - that unadultered abandon in a world of curiosity and dream in which there exists an index of possibility. The one facet of childhood that makes all this possible is play. As with all things there’s a balance of course and no self-respecting educationalist would deny the need for direct instruction alongside play and playful experiences.
And yet we seem to have created an educational landscape in which the joy and engagement that is created by play is being eroded by demand for increased formality, ‘readiness’ and ‘narrowing the gap’. The adult world thinks that the greater children are directed then the more children will learn, the more the adult has influence, the more children will progress.
Yet by doing so, we begin to also erode children’s ‘presence in the moment’ - we start to remove the golden fix of play and replace it with table and chair, ‘School’ and instruction. Play presents a shining path but all too quickly we seem to want to tarmac it over with interventions, group work, and carpet times.
Play enables so much but because its essence often lies outside of adult world definition and interpretation it gets closed down. It’s at this point that children lose their presence in the moment. They disconnect. Play offers a cathedral of connectivity and communication so why replace it? Is it because this is what we’ve always done, because of what school is.
Shouldn’t our challenge be to harness the natural connectivity of play rather than offer the isolation of red group and blue group, where children become individualised and disparate other than in the 15 minute window on the playground. Shouldn’t we want an environment in which children are energised and part of something magical both inside and outside of themselves?
For the answer why not ask yourself which party you’d rather be at: 2018 or 1990? Even with my poor dancing ability I know which one I’d rather be at...
Can I Go Play Now..? is committed to widening the understanding of the magic of children's play as an educational tool. Child-centred, play-based learning is where it's truly at....