The Aesthetics of (Un)Charted Play: Negotiating Nostalgia and Digital Demons in an Era of "Post-Truth" Educational Research

Nathan Holbert, Haeny Yoon, Cassie Brownell, Christopher Moffett, Michael Dando, Isabel Correa, Lalitha Vasudevan
2020 International Conference of the Learning Sciences  
Caught between reverence and dismissal, play has long been a fixture of childhood and youth. However, play is far from uncontested terrain and in this session we bring together multiple disciplinary perspectives to the exploration of play that is both structured and unfettered. Drawing from perspectives in the learning sciences, Afrofuturism, literacies, and early childhood imaginations, the presenters in this session will map out a robust landscape of conditions, practices, and purposes of
more » ... in the lives of children and adolescents, and in the practices and considerations of educators and researchers who study aspects of childhood and adolescence. The session underscores the importance of paying serious attention to the aesthetics and materiality of play. Session objective and overview For generations, play has been an object of study, an elusive phenomenon about which much has been written and pondered. Likewise, the pursuit of play in education has resulted in numerous curricular interventions, causal explanations, and pedagogical innovations aimed at either codifying or controlling play in some way. The latest incarnation of "play panic" lies in responses to increased digitality of the materiality of childhood (e.g., Twenge, 2017) that opens up greater plains of unpredictability in young people's practices. In contrast, we embrace a view of play that is not tethered to a priori outcomes, rules, and externally imposed goals, what Gray (2013) calls "free play." As such, the papers in this session issue a call to action for educators and researchers to pay close and serious attention to the multiple contours of play as intellectual, and challenging work-we demonstrate that play is "neither reserved for only the world of children nor is it the least bit trivial" (Kuschner, 2009, p.xi). We share multimodal artifacts that provide textured, multi-sited, and in some cases multi-genre examples of how individuals engage playfully with their "work" and how they develop and cast their imaginations across different contexts and platforms, using a myriad of modes and forms while interacting with objects, ideas, other people, and technology. We forefront how identities (e.g., media producers, designers, agents of change) are reimagined as participants play around with materials, space, and cultural artifacts-how "fancied selves become material" (Holland, et al., 1998, p. 236) through building and tinkering with pivotal tools, artifacts, and spaces (Vygotsky, 1978). Through a nuanced discussion on play, we show how individuals play across various contexts (e.g. classrooms, after school spaces, community spaces) along a wide range of age groups (from small children to adolescents to adults). In each case, play functions as an aesthetic experience where individuals engage and design new frames and identities within a free and flexible space (Millar, 1968) -thus the space to freely play with multiple possibilities is essential to conditions for play.
dblp:conf/icls/HolbertYBMDCV20 fatcat:fsyxpdke35edpawu5bg2h7lrpu