Baan Dek

A Definition of Play

Thoughts & Reflections

At the Third International Arakawa and Gins: Architecture and Philosophy Conference, a definition of play was articulated by the philosopher Erin Manning. Manning, most recently the author of Relationscapes: Movement, Art and Philosophy, defined “play” as “the practice of practicing”.

Now, we think this is the most suitable definition of “play” that we have heard, at least since Montessori defined “the practice of practicing”, as “work”. As many of you know, “play” has become an operative, if not haute word in many early childhood education circles.

In Montessori, the term “play” is not typically used. This is primarily because “play” is associated with a child not having any boundaries with their activities. Of course, in Montessori, there is total freedom administered with the activities, but under the condition of limits.

Instead of “play”, then, Montessori develops a positive conception of the term “work”. Of course, another phrase for this type of activity could be, “Montessori play”. Directed, interested, purposeful, committed, exploratory, and joyful.

Written by:

Baan Dek

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