Play is the "Superfluity" of Energy Over Needs

Colozza on Play Phenomena.—The psychology and pedagogy of play form the subjects of a recent volume by Professor G. A. Colozza, whose views may be thus summarised: Play is the superfluity of energy over and above the essential needs of life,—at once the equivalent of accumulated energy and the means of its augmentation. In the little child the need to play increases in proportion as it plays ; the more it plays, the more it wishes to play. But mere superfluity of energy is not alone sufficient to produce play. Besides this superfluity of energy there must be also a more or less high degree of psychic activities. Those animals play the most who have this reserve capital, together with this psychic activity. Out of the great struggle for existence has come this happy faculty of play. The young of all animals play—their infancy is a time of joy and gladness, the age of play. As we go up the scale of life, the development of play from the indefinite to the definite, from the homogeneous to the heterogeneous, follows the general law of physical and psychical evolution—from the lower animals to the higher, from the higher vertebrates to the human child, from the savage child to the civilised child. The great human factors—imitation and imagination—play a most important role in child-amusement; but from the struggle for life survive also the love of victory, the instinct for conquest, the need of fighting, all of which express themselves in certain plays and games: ‘ the chess-player,’ e.g., ‘without knowing it, obeys to-day the instinct of compiest of his ancestors.’ In later childhood a rather large role must be assigned to deliberate invention and fiction, and to what may euphemistically be termed ‘ the pleasures of the imagination.’ Play is a great social stimulus : ‘The lively pleasure which is felt in play is the prime motive which unites children. Child-societies are play-societies. Collective play is play par excellence. In it every child is spectator and actor, and experiences a variety of feelings and emotions—satisfaction, pride, triumph, emulation, etc. In collective life arise divers varied relations, from which come the correlative feelings which stimulate child activity to express itself according to this or that pleasurable emotion.’ In play, too, occurs the first development of art, of the resthetic instinct in the child ; and here, as with the savage, ornament sometimes precedes utility. There are many games in which dressing, personal adornment and the like are the chief factors. Then, when music is added to the child’s possessions, a new series of plays appears, in which rhythm, cadenced sounds, singing, dancing, etc., fill out the round of pleasurable expression ; with the children of the poor, the noise made by knocking two stones together serves in lieu of the musical luxuries of the rich. The surroundings of childhood—physical, psychical, social, historical, artistic—exert considerable influence upon the plays and games of the human young, as Boccardo, Fornarl and Perodi have noted. A peasant’s child in the Apennines is differently encompassed from an American child in one of the New World’s big, bustling cities, with all its wonders of modern skill and invention. Seasons, and climates too, are modifying factors, as also are country and city, riches and poverty, religion and politics, militarism and industrialism. Puppet-shows are unknown to some peoples, and to very many children, while many others are largely content with language-plays. I'he ‘mathematical recreations ’ of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries may be compared with the political and commercial aspects of many of the [)arlour-games of the present day. The stimulative role of child-play is remarkable : ‘ If the progress of the mind is determined by increase of the products of experience, childplay has an indubitable value. The experiences of the child almost always take the form of play ; in childhood, to play is synonymous with to experiment. Every new play is a new experience, and this, in its turn, gives rise to new knowledge, new feelings, new desires, new acts, and new abilities.’ Play and playthings can serve as excellent culture-implemcnts— the memory (as in word-games, repetition games), the feelings and affections (as in many of the animal-games and social plays), the sex and domestic instincts (dolls and allied playthings), are all subject to influence and education. In a word, ‘the plays of childhood are a microcosm possessing almost all the elements of life. Amour p7-opre^ self-confidence, courage, astuteness, order, command, obedience, all are there.’ The infinitude of child-play is capable of exciting any feeling or emotion. As Mme. Kergomard says: ‘ Play is the child’s labour, its trade, its life, its initiation into society’ (120, pp. 8,47. 65, 91, 216).

Pedagogically much is implied by the facts that idiots are not playful, and that the wisest of men is not wise enough to command the games of children. The marionettism of extreme Froebelians, the neglect or despisal of invention prevalent in certain kindergartens, the fetishism of the ‘gifts,’ the namby-pambyism of not a few doll-cults, the caricatured savagery cf toy-soldierdom, the baneful luxury of the elegant playthings of many of the rich, servile imitation (the refuge of idle and careless parents)—all these are enemies to the real educative aspects of child-play, which has need of continual ‘ becoming,’ of motion, life, the natural, invention, creation, all the progressive factors of human existence and human activities. The two pedagogic laws formulated by Colozza, as a result of his study of play, are these : ‘ (a) the teacher must not urge on too quickly the appearance of play ; (b) when children are tired of carrying on a given play, the teacher ought not always to let them have absolute rest, but should enable them to carry on plays of a different sort.’ The first necessity for the proper exercise of the play-instinct in a child is a maximum of child-activity with a minimum of adult interference.


Folksonomies: education play

 The Child: A Study in the Evolution of Man (Classic Reprint)
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Chamberlain, Alexander Francis (201411), The Child: A Study in the Evolution of Man (Classic Reprint), Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: education pedagogy psychology pediatrics