This is the third part of the Engagement and Motivation section of my dissertation lit review:
The Value of Play
Traditionally, constructivists have found a great deal of value in childrenâ€™s play, and have considered it an important element of education. Dewey (1926), for instance, considered play, or â€œnative tendencies to explore, to manipulate tools and materials, to construct, to give expression to joyous emotion, etc.â€ (p. 194), an important part of education, allowing the whole pupil to be engaged and reducing the â€œartificial gap between life in school and outâ€ (p. 195). Piaget (1950) identified symbolic play as one of the early manifestations of assimilation and accommodation (p. 138-140). Vygotsky, too, â€œidentified play as a key factor in causing [children] to move from one level of development to the nextâ€ (Dixon-Krauss, 1996, p. 79). In fact, Vygotsky (1978) believed that â€œplay creates a zone of proximal development [for] the childâ€ (p. 102) and that â€œplay contains all developmental tendencies in a condensed form and is itself a major source of developmentâ€ (p. 102). Bruner (1966) agreed that â€œa good deal of [childrenâ€™s] play must be understood as practice in coping with the environmentâ€ (p. 119) and that â€œgames go a long way toward getting children involved in understanding language, social organization, and the rest; they also introduceâ€¦ a theory of these phenomenaâ€ (p. 95).
Modern game scholars share these perspectives. For example, Salen and Zimmerman (2004) consider play valuable for developing meaning (p. 33-34), social relations (p. 462), and identity (p. 519), among other things. For Salen and Zimmerman, as for Prensky (2006), the complexity of the game is an important factor in whether or not the play is meaningful (Salen and Zimmerman, 2004, p. 170). Koster (2005) expressed the value of complex social play succinctly: â€œfrom playing cops and robbers to playing house, play is about learning life skillsâ€ (p. 61). Slator (2006) concluded that â€œthe value of play in learning can hardly be overemphasizedâ€ (p. vii). Others, such as Prensky, Gee, Aldrich, and Shaffer have made the value of play a cornerstone of their theories.
I’m seeking feedback on this writing, so please let me know what you think in the comments.