You didn’t think an old tennis buff like JJ would leave you with no tennis power of story to think about this weekend, did you? Au contraire!
Is learning play or competition, if there’s a difference? How should we best understand education ideas that push them together and turn learning into contests: being taught/trained to play, playing to win, players going pro?
Peter Gray’s Psychology Today learning blog:
In nonhuman animals, play and contests are sharply distinguished. Play is cooperative and egalitarian, and contests are antagonistic and aimed at establishing dominance. Hunter-gatherer humans accentuated play and avoided contests in order to maintain the high degree of cooperation and sharing that was essential to their way of life.
In our society, with our competitive games, we often confound play and contest. What might be the consequences of this for children’s development?
Put on the Wimbledon finals this weekend and play (but not compete!) along with past tennis-inspired Snooking, including your 2011 game expansion pack: Hair We Go!
This is not the face of a human playing and having fun, even if her hair seems to be playing around and enjoying it. This is a duel, contest for survival and she’ll kill or die for it. You should hear the vicious SOUNDS this warrior woman makes while “playing” professionally. Right now she is losing the Wimbledon final despite clenched fists and aggressive, no, hostile cries punctuating every stroke. If looks could kill, she would be not merely “winning” but undisputed Queen of the World . . . but in my world, win or lose she’s no champion, no matter how miserable she manages to make herself, her opponents and everyone else.
After years of standardizing education in the name of high expectations, making college the ultimate goal for children, and viewing our children as resources to be developed for our economy, like oil and gold, we are still left with the fact that most children and teenagers do not respond well to this treatment.
. . . We aren’t much smarter for all these expensive efforts.
Why do we blame ourselves instead of our ideas about schooling for these failures?
UPDATE: the queen did lose, long live the queen. The new champ is unassuming, calm and sweet. Also she’s a leftie, which makes her charmingly quirky. 😉 She is exactly Favorite Daughter’s age and reminds me of her in temperament. Asked about nerves in this contest royal, she shyly said, “I just relaxed” — and I believed her.