Saturday, August 30

Grounds for Play

Recall your grade schoool playground. How and what did you play? Did you twirl on bars, practice penny drops? Did you climb on jungle gyms or simply use them as imaginary shelter in fantasy play? Did you make yourself sick on the merry go round?

In Fall Down Go Boom, Good magazine provides an excellent report on the history of playgrounds and how they have been dumbed down to decrease the risks that provide the opportunity to build cognitive functions.

Adjunct articles describe innovations that are afoot in parks like Berkeley's Adventure Playground (pictured) that use scrap materials to promote creative play or Imagination Park planned for Manhattan, that offers colorful oversized blocks and loose parts.

These examples challenge playgrounds to think outside the current out-of-the-box-style of play areas: sterilized, safe and familiar to fast food patrons.

And what about us grown-ups? Play continues to provide a sound antidote to the serious nature of our lives. PSFK recently reported on Bruno Taylor a renegade playground designer and advocate for play. Bruno is on a mission to bring play back into public spaces, evidenced by the installation of swings in London bus stops.

Photos via GOOD & PSKF


Horton Brothers said...

First off... It's true... Playgrounds are BORING. Take it from me, I'm an elementary teacher! Some time in the 90's someone rolled out the asphalt and now kids play on blacktop. What kids do on hard playground isn't entirely clearly anymore! I actually worked at a school where students where forbidden and "PUNISHED" for running... Yah RUNNING! Other rules included NOT pushing other people on the swings! Gone are the merry-go-rounds and the slides! Remember the slide!??? Fun-ness Unleashed! OR... (I almost forgot) the teeter-totter!??? ICONIC! What a sick world we live in!

People are too damn uptight! "Adults" that is! The school where I worked last year actually had a day where they taught the students how to play on the playground. Basically it was a 5 page document created for the teachers to monitor and enforce during recess. The students where told how and where they were to play all of the "approved" recess activities. That's GROSS!

I recently saw a middle school student quoted as saying "adults ruin everything." IT'S TRUE!

greg said...

Best school playground memory. Giant stainless steel slide. Throw sand/dust on slide surface. Slide down standing up ala snowboard or ski-style. How we got away with that is beyond me...
Would never happen now. Most schools don't even have slides anymore. Or see-saws. And forget about merry go rounds.
But we have them all in our neighborhood YAY!