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August 03, 2009
On the advice of one of the teachers I worked with during my dissertation project, I was in the process of ordering Pat Kane's The Play Ethic from everyone's favourite online book emporium: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0333907361/ref=cm_rdp_product
Idly scanning through the book's page, unwilling to return to my studies (Today I'm addressing the role teacher have in the play that occurs in the drama classroom - basically intercutting my two teacher interviews in a clash of the titans sort of way - woohoo) I came across a review that made my blood boil. In a few short paragraphs it managed to embody every misconception about play, about what those in our society should be most usefully striving for (and, through implication, what schools should be teaching) that I'm fighting against in my dissertation and - beyond that - what I just feel in my heart is wrong. The 'liberal' attitude of dealing with the world as we find it, never questioning, never striving to change alongside striving to exist and thrive. In case you were wondering, he gave it two stars:
|By||NH(london) - See all my reviews|
The main problem is the author has obviously spent no time at all in the real world. He advocates that by (re)discovering the 'playful' side of our personalities we can somehow transform our working environment, to being something that its not - eg no longer work.
Yeah, well, that's fine if you're in a creative job, like being a musician, or working in an advertising agency. But try applying it to being a nurse, teacher, claims handler, farmer, data inputter or any of the million other mundane jobs people struggle through to pay their dues in our screwed up economy.
The notion falls flat straight away, because, actually, in the real world there are profits to be made and targets to be reached. People also desire power, and ruthlessly compete with each other for wealth and status.
I'm trying not to be a boring old cynic. People read books like this and genuinely get inspired to live more meaningful lives. Good for them. But, at the end of the day, its completely stupid to think ideas like this can change the world. To do that requires a lot of effort, persistance and... no pun intended - Work.
This enraged me so much, particularly the sweeping assertion that teaching is not a playful profession, that I immediately posted a fruitlessly raging reply:
Ms. J. Kitchen says:
Perhaps your understanding of play isn't the same as I imagine Pat Kane might be advocating (I've just ordered this book as part of my MA Education studies, so I'm guessing) but I think the real incompatibility of views here is that you seem to accept the Capitalist structure of society as an unchangeable 'reality' - i.e. that the only achievements of value are 'profits' and 'targets'
I agree that to a large extent this *is* the society we live in, and that cannot be ignored, but is that a reason to accept it unquestioningly as we strive to make our way in it?
For me, the *work* of play is in taking the risk to genuinely engage with the humanity of every individual I come into contact with - to see beyond people's professions, economic status, what they might do or demand from me. For many, especially those who have bought into the values of our still largely Capitalist-driven society, this is too great a risk: as the pay-offs cannot always be measured in the ways - i.e. 'power...wealth and status' - you seem to think are the only valuable achievements.
Realising this reviewer would be unlikely to grant me the satisfaction of a) reading the comments on a idly posted review b) take the time to reply and engage in a dialogue with me I felt compelled to share on here, if only to give my rage and my challenging of this viewpoint the platform I (perhaps arrogantly) feel it so richly needs.
I hope after all this The Play Ethic is worth reading!