Let’s go play! – Global issues


  • Opinion by Heike Kuhn (Bonn, Germany)
  • Inter-Press Office

Here’s a closer look, starting with children: We’ve all witnessed around the world that children learn best through play, everywhere, in every region and in every culture. Through play, children can be creative, learn to express themselves and work together. By playing with peers, they connect with others, learn to put themselves in the shoes of others, follow and respect rules, and develop resilience in winning or losing, realizing that both involve play.

The right to play is protected: the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child declares that ‘States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure and to participate in play and recreational activities appropriate to his or her age of the child and on free participation. in cultural life and the arts” (Article 31). Considering that this Treaty is one of the most ratified UN treaties, you might assume that it would be easy for children around the world to play if this right were implemented.

However, we are faced with major differences between countries: In so-called developed countries, play takes place at home and in public spaces: at home, children play with animals, dolls, games and electronic devices. At kindergartens and schools, children can also play during sports lessons. And even in small towns you will find public playgrounds with swings, climbing frames and whipping tops.

When we go to the developing countries where the majority of the world’s youth live, we see a very different situation: many children simply do not have time to play, but instead have chores (especially girls), which are common in rural areas. work to support their families. living in poverty, working in factories or refugees on the run, threatened by wars, conflicts or climate change. Yet you see children playing with their peers anytime and anywhere, whether it is on the street, playing hide and seek or local games. Play ensures the well-being of children – everywhere. Playing provides a sense of normalcy, even in the most difficult circumstances.

As for adults, why do we still like to play? Let’s start with sports: football, tennis, cricket, kabbadi, to name a few. Mental exercises include bridge, backgammon, chess or several forms of quizzes. Many adults find it a great satisfaction to play, to get away from their daily routine, to get together with peers, to exchange and have fun, to immerse themselves in the game, to become absorbed in playing and to pay full attention. have in the moment, just like children do.

So what is the magic of play? In her introduction to the guide to the outdoor exhibition ‘Radical Playgrounds – from Competition to Collaboration’, taking place in Berlin, curator Joanna Warsza says: ‘The core idea of ​​ludology, the study of play, tells us that play is necessary. for a human being to thrive it must be based on voluntary participation, with a set of fictitious rules and the ability to quit at any time… “

From my point of view, voluntary participation is just as important to playing as the fun factor: the activity is optional, there is no enforcement. You are either interested because your mind is drawn and focused as you experiment with new ideas or materials (free play), or you enjoy the task, team or competition, for example while playing sports during a match (competitive play). Playing creates communities, playing makes you flourish because you can be anyone, playing is fun, alone or with others. At the same time you learn, because “Playing is our brain’s favorite way of learning,” to quote the American writer Diane Ackermann.

Digging a little deeper into competitive play and transferring lessons to our everyday lives: When we play with others, we must first agree on the rules together. Then we must respect them all. Naturally, mood and emotions come in and need to be dealt with. Yet, without respecting the rules once agreed upon, you cannot play because some of us will get frustrated and quit. How important rules are can also be seen in the position of a referee, who commands their respect during the tournament, for example in football matches: you will receive a yellow or red card if you do not adhere to the applicable rules.

So what are the lessons? Playing means enjoying and learning. Play is a powerful tool for all societies, bringing people from all social classes together and having fun. Here in Europe, my continent, three major sporting events will attract a lot of people this summer: the European Athletics Championships in Rome, the European Football Championship in Germany and the Summer Olympics in Paris. We will see how athletes will show maximum performance, respect rules and therefore play fairly. They will be role models for many of us and inspire millions of people, especially the youth. And we’ll have fun. That’s another reason why I’m embracing the very first International Play Day!

Dr. Heike Kuhn is Head of Department, Education, Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Bonn, Germany

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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