It is apparent from talking to professionals that “free flow” is used frequently as a management term (“We let them do free flow after Group Time,” indicating the use of the term as a descriptor of movement and choice rather than depth of involvement) rather than a way of describing play… But is this more to do with the fact that we have moved on very little from our understanding of play at a practitioner level? Does this understanding of play have more to do with deep-seated beliefs about the duty of adults to provide play for children: that the model of doing for children – rescuing them, in some way – is important for practitioners’ own self-image?
Caillois’ Man Play and Games gives a very much less classroom based definition of play (or at least a categorisation of it) by looking at adult play, play-rituals &c from an anthropological perspective; the work of Marjatta Kalliala is, as far as I know, the first author to make use of Caillois in looking at play in the Early Years.
Does Kalliala’s use of Caillois – particularly in her use of his notion of Ilinx – allow us to explore some of the corners of play adults have been less happy to look at, perhaps because they challenge our nation of children as learners, explorers? What is it about “dizzy play” that we have been unable to accommodate comfortably into our practice?
I wonder first of all how valid Kalliala’s interpretation of Caillois’ work is. It would be possible to see him not as a philosopher/anthropologist, but as a surrealist, for whom the notion of Ilinx is actually more a Huxleian Door [to] perception. We need to note, too, the appropriation of Caillois’ theories for video gaming, and while I am also suspicious of this, it does at least have current use on its side.
Are we left, then, with Kalliala on one side and the video gamers on the other, fighting over a term? Time to look at the texts; see page and sub-pages on Reading, as they develop.