Thursday, January 11, 2007

Where do the children play?

Was reading that New York City, with its rich history of public playgrounds, is on the verge of a bold experiment in the way children play, one that could accelerate the trend away from monkey bars, swings and seesaws used by generations of city children.

In an unusual public-private partnership, the city is developing a playground near the South Street Seaport that will have trained “play workers” on hand to help children interact with features of the new playground: water, ramps, sand and specially designed objects meant to spur the imagination.Based on child-development theories that children need to engage in social and fantasy play rather than just build physical skills, the project was conceived and is being designed at no charge by David Rockwell, famous for creating adult play spaces like the restaurants Nobu and CafĂ© Gray and the Mohegan Sun casino and resort.

Once upon a time, parents took their children to city playgrounds to push them endlessly in swings or watch them hang from monkey bars (since removed; too dangerous) or let them struggle with the rudiments of sharing shovels in a sandbox. And both parent and child felt they were doing pretty well.

The new playground, however, aims to do better: Developers of the Lower Manhattan project envision groups of children collaborating, for instance, loading containers with sand, hoisting them up with pulleys and then lowering them down to wagons waiting to be wheeled off to another part of the park.

“Play is not optional for kids; play is how children learn to build community, how they learn to work with other people, it’s how they learn to kind of engage their sense of creativity,” Mr. Rockwell said. “We thought it was a really open field to explore.”

The visual thats coming to my mind right now is of many Tom Sawyers trying to paint their fences, with Becky Thatchers helping them. Nice!


Anonymous said...

they told you how to work.
now they'll tell you how to play so that you can build the necessary skills to work..

FiNK said...

aaah... i love nobu!! i miss that place... we need one in delhi.. it'll be a great place to play!

meraj said...

a 'working class hero' is something to be...

Anonymous said...

the gradual degeneration of all forms of art from portraying spirituality to depicting industry..