Year: 2016

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Playful Bodies: Toward a Genealogy of Children’s Play

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of sharing my doctoral research with a network of researchers from Canada, Australia, the US and UK who gathered for a small research symposium under the theme of ‘Mediated Frictions: Learning, Dwelling and Imaging in Youth Lives” My talk was titled Playful Bodies: Toward a Genealogy of Children’s Play to play off of Foucault’s ‘Docile Bodies’ (to represent the playful body as a target of power). Because I’m at the stage of preparing a detailed proposal for the project, the talk focused on the theoretical and methodological material needed to set up a genealogical inquiry into children’s play, hence the second part of my title. Below is a slightly revised version of my talk. ————— In 2013 the United Nations issued a general comment on the child’s right to play as stated in the Convention on the Rights of the Child, reinforcing the obligation of states, private sectors, and parents to implement strategies and programs to secure appropriate opportunities for children to play, expressing a deep concern for …

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Review Essay: Where Has All the Good Play Gone?

Below is an excerpt from my review essay in the Special Issue on Mobility of Jeunesse: Young People, Texts, Cultures. In a recent summary published in the Guardian of new research that connects play to childhood learning, Lucy Ward reports that “[a] lack of understanding of the value of play is prompting parents and schools alike to reduce it as a priority.” If there is a lack of understanding, it is certainly not due to a lack of awareness. Parents and teachers in the global North are reminded regularly of a so-called play deficit: journalists report repeatedly on the threats posed to children’s quality playtime, the authors of popular parenting and education literature paint bleak images of children’s futures without play, and the advocates of play movements promise to reconnect young people with the right kinds of play (see Frost; Gill; Gray; Kang; Louv). In these accounts, play is essential to children’s learning and development, whereas a decline in quality play spells disaster for children and society. Researchers are also responding to the idea of …

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Reading Guide

I read How to Read a Book a year ago in preparation for one the greatest reading events of a graduate student’s life: comprehensive exams. I rarely recommend books because what I find useful, might not resonate with you and reading is an investment that you may not have the time or space for and then what good is the recommendation. Instead I’ll share the list of reading questions I generated from the words of Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren.

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Jamaica On Ice

I brought Marlon James’s novel A Brief History of Seven Killings (Riverhead Books) on vacation to Mexico, although it is a bit hefty for a carry-on bag let alone a beach bag; I only made it through 314 pages of the novel before returning to Vancouver and putting it into the freezer: according Internet research, it takes a minimum of five days at minus five degrees Celsius (the temperature of the average household freezer) to kill potential bed bugs and their eggs or depending on where you live in Canada, it might still be cold enough in March that leaving your luggage outside for a day or two would do it. I kept my copy of Seven Killings in the freezer for one full week and have now returned, worry-free, to the partly fictionalized ghettos of 1970s Jamaica where at the centre of the story Bob Marley has just survived a shooting four days before he’s to play the Smile Jamaica concert and less than a week away from a national election that has everyone …

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In Review: Play, Performance, and Identity

Below is an excerpt from my review of Play, Performance, and Identity: How Institutions Structure Ludic Spaces (Matt Omasta and Drew Chappell, Eds) in  Vol. 8 No. 2 of the American Journal of Play. A recent addition to the Routledge Advances in Theatre and Performance Studies Series, Play, Performance, and Identity: How Institutions Structure Ludic Spaces, brings play and performance studies together in an edited collection of thirteen essays that explore the boundaries of playful performances ranging from the massive multiplayer online game World of Warcraft to shark diving. As the title suggests, the editors’ objective is to investigate the often elusive question of who is responsible for structuring the experiences of play. A central tenant among the anthology’s authors is that institutions such as corporations, governments, and religious organizations are increasingly involved in defining the possibilities for play and that the player’s experience is thus shaped in significant ways by institutional ideologies that are worth examining. … Read the whole review here

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Fast & Effective Feedback Template

One of the biggest challenges of being a TA or instructor is giving feedback. It took me years and a lot of training to be able to give students the feedback they require to improve without exceeding the number of paid hours I worked. By working with a customizable template, I discovered a way to balance my students and my time. Download it, adapt it, and give it a try. Leave a comment to let others know how it worked! Download the Sample Feedback Template

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In Review: Towards a Better Internet for Children?

Below is an excerpt from my review of Toward a Better Internet for Children? Policy Pillars, Players and Paradoxes, which appeared in Vol 40 No. 3 of The Canadian Journal of Communication. Towards a Better Internet for Children? Policy Pillars, Players and Paradoxes, edited by Brian O’Neill, Elisabeth Staksrud, and Sharon McLaughlin, offers 16 chapters that contribute evidence-based insights into ongoing European policy debates regarding Internet regulation and child online safety. Smartly divided into three complementary parts (policy pillars, players, and paradoxes), the collection provides a timely discussion of the efficacy of current European policy initiatives; the evolving roles of regulators, educators, non-governmental organizations, and parents in implementing Internet safety; and the contradictions that result from efforts to make the Internet safer. The collection’s 27 contributors are all members of the EU Kids Online network, a research network of 33 countries supported by the European Union’s Safer Internet Programme. The discussions found in the collection are largely based on data from the most current EU Kids Online Project (2009–2011), to date the largest study of …