Sovereignty, Pleasure, Illusion and Play (Part II)

We need not give up on the formal spaces though. Play, like creativity, is a commodity which is required also to sustain the state and market. We can indeed find ways of incorporating playfulness in developing the curriculum. For example, what if’ discussions which seek to imagine a world in which some norm is broken – what if I were the king or what if adding two and two makes five and five and five make seven?

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Play in pedagogy

Let me begin with what may be taken as an extreme and exceptional case, even though it has marked almost 99 percent of human history – childhood in hunting-gathering societies. Almost all anthropologists who have studied the surviving hunter-gatherer bands across continents have remarked that children were left to play all the time without adult care, supervision or instruction. In so far as they seem to be doing no chores but play (some girls do take care of younger siblings while playing), children of hunter-gatherers appear to have learnt everything through play, which among other things often included role-play of adult behaviour. Hunter-gatherer adults, however, do not concern themselves much with their children’s education. They assume that children will learn what they need to know through their own, self-directed exploration and play. In play, hunter-gatherer children, on their own initiatives, practice the skills they will need for survival as adults. In their play, they also rehearse and build upon the knowledge, experience, and values that are central to their culture.’1 Of course, children spend a lot of time observing adults and participating in adult activities and interacting with them, but voluntarily. These are then incorporated into their play. This not only includes productive activities, like hunting and gathering, but also social activities like practice arguing’.2 Not only do they enact adult handling of disputes but also try to better it when they feel that the adults have bungled. An example of this is worth citing in some detail here:

Turnbull goes on to describe how Mbuti youth, aged about ten through seventeen, judge and correct their elders’ behaviour. If the camp has been seriously disrupted by adults’ dissention for a period of time, the youth, on their own initiative, may enact a playful ceremony, called the molimo madé, in which they present themselves in unison as an angry elephant, stomping through camp and disrupting it. This enactment is well understood by everyone to be a sign that the young people are tired of the dissent among the adults and are asking them to make peace.’3 Children play in mixed age groups ranging from toddlers to teenagers and, sometimes, included adults as well. Observers have specifically noted that these games are never competitive. The point of hunter-gatherer play is not to establish winners and losers but to have fun. In the process of having fun, the players develop skills requiring strength, coordination, endurance, cooperation, and wit, and they solidify their bonds of friendship.’4

It has been argued that humour and playfulness permeate the life of hunter-gatherers and have an important function in ensuring equality, individual autonomy and freedom that characterise such societies. It is also a mode of governance without appearing to be so. The effectiveness of humour as a leveller and reducer of aggression, I think, comes from its direct relationship to play. To make fun of something is to say, This thing that you are so proud of, or this dispute that has you so angry, is not as important as you think it is. This is play, and the important thing in play is to be a good sport.’ When hunter-gatherers use humour to resolve even the most serious social problems that they face, they seem to bring all of social life into the domain of play.’5 The very cosmos they inhabit, including the gods, are capricious without being hierarchical, rule-bound or moralist.

Nearer home, we have the study of the ghotuls of Murias, a Bastar tribe by Verrier Elwin.6 Children inhabit a world of their own (institutionalised here as the Ghotul) which has close interaction with the adult world but is yet independent of it. It is a world of fun, frolic, song dance, games, mock and serious work. Elwin describes the singing and dancing, games and other recreations’ in three long chapters. This is a singular example of children organising and managing their own institutions of education and socialisation and using play extensively in the process. Elwin was certainly on the lookout for games which prepared the children for adult life but was unable to clearly link many a game to any educational purpose’.

In a society of nuclear, stratified and individuated families as ours, it may be difficult to imagine ghotuls as the loci of children’s education. Nuclear families and adult-directed nurseries, kindergartens and schools have been firmly established as the institutional basis of children’s education. In contrast to the autonomy of children at play leading to their self-education, Christopher Joseph An argues for a more Vygotskian approach in which joint attention’ of adults and children in play enables children to acquire the complex mental equipment to make sense of the world and interact with it. It is not rational instruction but active joint participation in the imagined world initiated by the child in the course of her exploration and making sense of the world that enables the child to get her bearings as a rational and autonomous agent in the world. ‘℗lay gives us an opportunity to exercise our sense of embodied agency and where a player’s moves and actions are explained less in terms of mechanistic or deterministic forces and more by voluntary and purposive expressions of one’s agency.’7 The agency of the child provides the setting for the adult caregiver and the child to jointly explore the world, share linguistic and rational tools, and acquire methods of endowing things with value and meaning. The child’s playful exploration of the world, by seeing, hearing, grabbing, tasting things when accompanied by an adult, results in an interactive exchange of knowledge, values, meanings and modes of using the objects around. Unlike a rational instructional context, play creates an order which is not rational but aesthetic or affective (pleasure-giving). This does not demand the existence of pre-existing rational thinking in the child. Rather, it postulates imagination as the key capacity required of the child. At the same time, adult participation in children’s play helps children to be socialised into ways of reasoning and moral decision making which make us rational and responsible in the exercise of our autonomy and freedom. The child’s sustained yet evolving life of play can develop this sense of freedom from minimal sense of embedded agency to the more full-bodied sense of rational autonomy.’ This adult scaffolding helps the child to acquire those rational and moral tools which are not inbuilt or present in some Platonic sense of incipient knowledge which is aroused into fruition. Play helps structure and shape the child’s view of her surroundings into a normative space which enables self-conscious, responsive, and intelligible thought and action. Her growing familiarity with this shared normative space reflects her increasing competence in participating in these shared activities and practices.’ The child is not mastering the world of knowledge or reason here. She is merely getting immersed in the community of adults who relate to the world in a particular way. It is this immersion in the community, which enables the child to eventually inherit the knowledge, symbols and values developed over generations by the community. This means to let the child be like one of us, that is, participate in human modes of living. And it is through play where we let the child participate and experience what it is like to become the kind of human being that she can potentially be.’ Joseph An, being more philosophically inclined, does not elaborate upon the diverse forms this participatory play or joint attention can manifest into. But this theoretical exploration gives us some clue to how adults/​teachers can meaningfully intervene in children’s play. However, before we build upon these clues, we may be well advised to consider what the great educational thinkers in the past have had to say about it. Before we embark upon this, it is worth recording here a question that keeps raising its head rather strongly. While all thinkers have focussed attention on what play does to children, we do not have many studies of what participation in children’s play (or even mere observation of it) does to adults. Adult life, in many ways, yearns for a child’s play and finds itself deprived without it. Those who do not have children to play with prefer to have pets to play with. But participation in play appears as much a necessity for adults as it is for children even though play appears minuscule in the universe of the adult. We shall return to this theme subsequently.

Plato (428−348 BCE) was amongst the earliest thinkers to recognise the importance of play for the education of children. He advised pedagogues to eschew force in education and use play in its stead. In his Republic, after insisting that the training in dialectical thinking must begin with childhood, he equally strongly counselled against forcing children to learn these. ‘…the instruction must not be given the aspect of a compulsion to learn. Because … the free man ought not to learn any study slavishly. Forced labours performed by the body don’t make the body any worse, but no forced study abides in a soul.… Therefore, you best of men, don’t use force in training the children in the studies, but rather play. In that way, you can also better discern what each is naturally directed toward.’

Play is set in contrast to three phrases – compulsion, force and slavishness. Forcing or compulsion is equated with slavery. Free men should not learn in a slavish manner. Plato, of course, does not think forced labour does much damage to the human body, and perhaps considers it even productive. However, forced learning is wasted as it does not abide in the soul. Instead, play is recommended, implying that under conditions of play children will learn of their own free will and internalise their learning. But under free will, each child may choose a different line, which is just as good because it can tell us what each would-be-person’ is inclined towards and we can train them accordingly. But then, many questions remain unanswered. How does play become a part of structured education? Is it the recommended mode of teaching or a mode of attracting the child and holding his interest? Plato takes up some of these questions in his next phase of writing, the Laws. Once we identify the inclination of children and identify their future profession, they should be encouraged to play games using mimic tools’ of that profession so that they grow into that profession. They should learn beforehand the knowledge which they will afterwards require for their art. For example, the future carpenter should learn to measure or apply the line in play; and the future warrior should learn riding, or some other exercise, for amusement, and the teacher should endeavour to direct the children’s inclinations and pleasures, by the help of amusements, to their final aim in life. The most important part of education is right training in the nursery. The soul of the child in his play should be guided to the love of that sort of excellence in which, when he grows up to manhood, he will have to be perfected.’8 Elsewhere in the same work on laws, Plato argues that the purpose of education is to ensure conformity of the youth to the laws. And then, he does not mince his words, ‘…to produce this effect, chants (read children’s rhymes) appear to have been invented, which really enchant, and are designed to implant that harmony (with laws) of which we speak. And, because the mind of the child is incapable of enduring serious training, they are called plays and songs, and are performed in play.’9 Krell, commenting on these passages, points out, For the late Plato (of Laws), child’s play is an activity to be guided by the education to wisdom. Paidia is subordinated to padeia or pedagogy, the latter conceived on the model of technique…’10 School teachers and pedagogues will immediately find resonance with current educational practices. Since children prefer playing to studying under the teacher’s direction, a teacher may structure pleasurable games which serve the pedagogic purpose. The pedagogic purpose, of course, is to train children to conform to norms, develop skills necessary for practicing adult crafts or professions. This essentially is the play-way’ method advocated in popular educational wisdom.

Plato, thus, subverts all elements of play as we have just seen in the service of what Paulo Freire termed the banking theory of education’ and building a conformist citizenry. Autonomy, pleasure, purposelessness, creativity, eschewing judgements, etc., are removed from play and only the shell remains as if to trick the children.

As the protestant ethic privileging productive work over the pursuit of pleasure in play took root it gave two possibilities to break the scholasticism that characterised schooling and somehow integrate formal education with the life outside. The preferred alternative was productive work’ while the other possibility was play in the Platonic’ sense as real play appeared incongruous with education. Friedrich Froebel (1782−1852) was a strong advocate of using play as the primary way of learning for very young children (of kindergarten age). This was the era of industrialisation when work was becoming more and more alienated, and more and more children of the working class were drawn into the drudgery of the most horrible kind. This set the context for the discovery of play as the noblest and the most delightful activity for children. To Froebel, play of children was the purest, most spiritual activity of man’ and typical of human life as a whole – of hidden natural life in man and all things.’11 He sought to develop play as the predominant method of education. He ended up developing a new orthodoxy which made children go through highly structured games under the direction of the teacher.12

John Dewey adopted Froebel’s principles for the sub-primary department’ of his laboratory school but found his actual curricular design to be at variance with the principles and ended up changing them substantially.13 Dewey became one of the principal advocates of incorporating play into school education, especially of the very young children. Dewey stated the importance of play rather forcefully: ‘…numberless spontaneous activities of children, plays, games, mimic efforts, even the apparently meaningless motions of infants – exhibitions previously ignored as trivial, futile, or even condemned as positively evil – are capable of educational use; nay, are the foundation-stones of educational method.’14

Dewey gave his own twist to the understanding of play – it was not a mere outward activity but had something to do with mental attitude as a whole. It is the free play, the interplay of all child’s powers, thoughts, and physical movements in embodying, in a satisfying form, his own images and interests.’ In practical terms, it ‘…means complete emancipation from the necessity of following any given or prescribed system, or sequence of gifts [TLM], plays or occupations.’15

To Dewey, there was no hard- and fast-line dividing play and work; he saw the two as part of a continuum, one flowing into the other seamlessly. The firm line drawn by others between work and play divided by the sense of purpose characterising the former and purposelessness, the latter, was rejected by him. Quite simply stated, there cannot be play without any purpose. There was a blurred dividing line between the two, play’s end was just another action, while work focussed on the specific change in things. Both originated in an inner impulse rather than an external pressure or obligation. In his imagination, work and play combined to produce art: ‘…work which remains permeated with the play attitude is art.’16 To him, play and work constituted two main aspects of the outside life which he wanted to use to end the alienation of formal education. Both involve ends consciously entertained and the selection and adaptations of materials and processes designed to effect the desired ends. The difference between them is largely one of time-span, influencing the directness of the connection of means and ends.’17 He gives the examples of a child playing boat’ in a make-believe play and a child playfully making’ a toy boat to show that only a slim line divides the two. Of course, work’ for Dewey was set in a Utopian world (quite similar to that of the hunter-gatherers) and bore no kinship with the alienated labour of factory workers or farm workers working for a wage under foremen and bosses. Dewey appears to apply the play element more in the pre-school section of his laboratory school. Even though Dewey does not elaborate the meaning of play in the school curriculum for over 6‑year-olds, we can take this play-work continuum to have been the guiding principle. Even at the pre-school level, Dewey sought to redefine the role of play by incorporating the experience of many school teachers he had encountered.

He was inspired by the practice of kindergarten teachers like Anna Bryan who modified the highly structured Froebelian model to allow children greater freedom to work out their own ideas with the teacher merely creating an environment and making gentle suggestions. She developed her own model of guided free play’ which was substantially adopted in Dewey’s school. Nevertheless, Dewey remained well within the framework laid by Plato of subordinating play to the larger educational goals. He emphasised (at least for the pre-school age group) that the start must come from the child’ – even if a teacher may give him or her some models to develop ideas, the child, in order to become independent and develop must return to his or her own imagery. All activities had to carry the child on to a higher plane of consciousness and action, instead of merely exciting him and then leaving him just where he was.’ And further, to get hold of the child’s natural impulses and instincts, and to utilize them so that the child is carried on to a higher plane of perception and judgment and equipped with more efficient habits; so that he has an enlarged and deepened consciousness and increased control of powers of action. Wherever this result is not reached, play results in mere amusement and not in educative growth.’18 He states it more bluntly in his Democracy and Education, ‘… these things shall be subordinated to education – that is, to intellectual results and the forming of socialised dispositions.’

Dewey thus was not free of the anxiety of modernity about a childhood left to work itself out without adult supervision, protection or direction.19 After all modern civil society or Dewey’s democratic community was constituted by a citizenry that was socialised for a participatory and orderly democracy which required voluntary consent on the part of the individual to social controls.

The anxiety about childhood, to a large extent, stems from the recognition of the failure in containing social conflicts and tensions and in ensuring peace and justice in society. It is the spilling over of these conflicts into children which perhaps lies at the root of the anxiety. In the post-liberalisation era when social inequalities have increased to unprecedented levels and control over productive resources by a handful of corporate houses shatters the dream of a democratic society, the race to access the only capital resource open to the larger humanity, that of literacy and numeracy and the cultural capital of formal education speeds up. Public documents proclaim, Education for All’, No Child Left Behind’ etc. and suchlike slogans. Programs to ensure basic literacy assume monstrous control over public education systems.

By and large, the Indian schooling system bypassed the pre-school age group till very recently when the role of nursery and kindergarten has come to be seen as vital in ensuring socialisation of children into school-readiness’. This meant both disciplining children into sitting quietly’ in a packed classroom and following the orders of the teacher as well as equipping them with literacy and numeracy skills prior to admission into the formal schools. Toys, games, songs etc. were used to entice children into this world. As a researcher surveying play-way’ in pre-school education dryly noted, preschool in India is serious business.’20 Despite repeated well-intentioned policy pronouncements, the education component of the early childcare system run by the Women and Child Welfare departments has been non-existent or at best, a bad attempt at teaching reading and counting. This effectively meant that play has been absent from where one could have most expected to see it, in pre-school education. Our primary and subsequent stages of education have had even less space for play. At best, there is a games’ period in which children played rule-bound games.

But then, children find spaces for play, they steal time from education’ to play, to be themselves. The curriculum and expectations from children, till recently, allowed children some free time to play with themselves, siblings or friends and neighbours and even elder relatives. It is this space that recent trends in education and entertainment are competing for. Education to prepare the future worker in the service of global capital and entertainment to corner the present consumer. As Plato suggested long ago, play becomes the sugar coating to entice both the student and the consumer, perhaps not in the service of the ideal Republic but of the global capital and Nation State.

The massive campaigns mounted since the 1990s globally sought to enlist play and fun for the cause of spreading literacy by introducing what was termed play way’ or joy of learning’ or learning is fun’. Activities considered to be close to play became the standard fare of recommended classroom processes in the early literacy levels. Singing rhymes, simple games, manipulation of concrete objects like toys (‘TLM’) etc. were no longer confined to elite special schools but could be seen practiced by the contract teachers of humble government schools too. This helped to change the ambience of the classrooms and attract children into them. However, this veneer was soon to wear off as it became evident that it did not really help in ensuring achievement’ or increasing the scores of schools in standardised tests. Now began the race for testing driven targeted’ teaching of alphabets and algorithms to ensure that children managed to clear the predictable tests. In higher grades, the pressure mounted on children to increase the quantum of time spent on studies, tuition and homework’ and prepare for the ubiquitous exams, tests and project work’. If all this stole away children’s leisure time that could be spent on play, it was amply supplemented by digital games, TV shows and virtual communities purveyed by the IT industry.

As is evident, both these phenomena, share the feature of assuming the form of play to grab the attention of children and disciplining their minds and bodies in the name of education and dumbing down their sensitivities and link to real life around even as they participated in a burgeoning market apparently as free consumers.

Lila as a mode of Being and Becoming

In this essay, we have explored the many different dimensions of play and its relation to the education of children, and the understanding that play naturally belongs to childhood. At the same time, we also found that play and playfulness is something that defines the very nature of the world we live in and is an essential dimension of freedom, autonomy, power and agency of human beings. If purposefulness, reason and ethics form the core of one dimension of our relationship with the world around us, purposelessness, pleasure and imagination claim the other equally.

If the world is the unfolding of the sovereign play of Eon/​Brahman as Heraclitus and Badarayana envisaged in pithy sutras, the elaboration of the idea down the ages reveals its richness and depth. Play emerges as the dialogue between several polarities – real and illusionary, random and orderly, concealing and revealing, but at the same time, singularly defined by autonomy, freedom, pleasure, aesthetic, creation and power. To be human, then, is to partake of this playfulness too.

Confining playfulness and play to childhood or to hunting-gathering is a stratagem of forgetting or concealing an essential dimension of our own being. Recovering play for adulthood and retaining it albeit in forms appropriate to adult life appears utopian as we take on serious roles of a husband, wife, parent, master, employer, employee, worker, servant, slave, leader, guru, follower and so on. There is a dire need to develop the ability to move seamlessly between playing and going about the serious business of life and likewise, to see the world as being a random play as well as rationally organised. Thus, instead of using play to teach serious things or to develop rationality, we need to cultivate play in age-appropriate forms as an end in itself. Retaining sanity in this world requires this.

Sanity, in general, and in adults in particular, is more and more endangered as our society moves away from the work-play continuum and this sets the stage for multiple kinds of alienations adults suffer from. One such is the fetishism and mystification of reality around us. Play can be of great help in demystifying the fetishes nurtured around us, including those of learning, merit, hard work, and commodities — a kind of reverse process, as play is supposed to create a make-believe, illusory world. But as we had noted earlier, play combines in itself both, concealment and revelation. The oscillation between the real’ and the imagined worlds helps in looking at the real world in a less normative or determined way and seeing it in a new light. In creating alternative worlds, play also helps us to get rid of the notion of the necessity of the present one and look at it as transient, irrational and immoral too. Verrier Elwin tells us about games played in Ghotuls in which the thief good-naturedly manages to fool the guard of the fields and wins. No moral lessons here. Instead of looking at stealing as immoral only, it can also be seen as an intelligent activity requiring skill and imagination. In the chor-pulis (thief-cop) game, the thief is probably more preferred for the role of the protagonist than the policeman.

Play, unlike other activities, can be self-reflective. One knows it is play because one is playing. This helps one in disengaging from what one is doing even while doing it and reflecting on it and eventually, in building a mindset in which one does not take oneself too seriously.

Whatever benefits it may have for younger children, pedagogic use of play is one way of reminding the adults of the wonderful delights of the world of play. In fact, celebrating children, witnessing their play, participating in it and recounting it is a way of fulfilling this vital need.

This gives us a clue to the use of play in school pedagogy. The best way for a teacher to use’ play is to make the effort and learn to enter children’s play and participate in it. There is no shortcut to this. It requires children to feel safe with their autonomy and initiative to initiate play in the school context and in the presence of the teacher. Secondly, it requires the teacher to shed her/​his inhibitions to enter children’s play as an equal participant without imposing a pedagogic purpose. Perhaps not just the teacher, but also the parents and other caregivers. Only when play becomes a shared activity or joint attention’ (of Christopher An), can it become a pedagogic tool for scaffolding children’s making sense of the world around them and entering the adult community as equals.

As anxiety about children not learning enough or buying enough mounts in our neo-liberal era, it seems less and less possible to create such situations in schooling, which anyway is too closely controlled by the state and the market to be a free space. The need then is to struggle for space and time free of such controls, for both adults and children to enter the world of play – free of purpose, for pleasure and with a sense of freedom. In many ways, the struggle of the eight-hour day’ of the workers of the last century which now appears like a utopian dream is central to the project of recovering play in our lives. This is now increasingly becoming anachronistic as the boundaries between office time’ and office space’ and personal time and space and between market and home both for children and adults have been blurred in recent years. This is true both for the middle classes and the vast sea of self-employed’ workers. What we need to do is to reflect upon ways in which our minds and bodies can be freed in these times when state and capital invade and erode every sphere of our being. Play, then, is the key to this struggle for freedom too.

It may be pragmatic to find spaces and times outside those formally committed to institutions whether the workplace or the school, on the lines suggested long ago by Ivan Illich as a part of his call for deschooling society and creating community learning spaces outside of schools. These can encourage mixed age groups to engage in playful activities besides the purposeful learning activities.

We need not give up on the formal spaces though. Play, like creativity, is a commodity which is required also to sustain the state and market. We can indeed find ways of incorporating playfulness in developing the curriculum. For example, what if’ discussions which seek to imagine a world in which some norm is broken – what if I were the king or what if adding two and two makes five and five and five make seven? The range of what if’ situations can be enlarged even as part of the formal curriculum to enable a playful exploration of alternative, imagined, illusory worlds. Of course, to what extent this exercise will be in the realm of play and when it will become an onerous task, is anybody’s guess.

Play is not all mental activity as both Vygotsky and Piaget took pains to point out; it is a very sensuous activity involving manipulation of physical objects even if their meanings were changed from the conventional ones. Play, thus, requires engagement with the physical world around through corporeal activity. In fact, the abundance and richness of the objects induce play. The fact that our classrooms are so bare may be linked to the fact that the abundance of objects at hand leads children and teachers astray into the world of play. When children and even adults encounter rich and varied collections of objects (whether natural or artificial) with time and freedom on hand they can easily slip into play.

If sensuousness and imagination form the two poles of play, it is impelled by a sense of freedom and pleasure. When a child is caught daydreaming in the classroom staring out of the window, let us know that she is exercising her freedom to play. This pursuit of pleasure with freedom will eventually help us build a new world, an illusion today that may be a reality tomorrow.


C N Subramaniam worked with Eklavya in the area of social science education. He is now retired and lives in Hoshangabad.

  1. Peter Gray, ‘Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence’ in American Journal of Play, Spring, 2009, pp 476-522. Present quotation from p. 505↩︎

  2. Mock-serious argument among adults as a way of resolving disputes and tensions.↩︎

  3. Peter Gray, ‘Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence’ in American Journal of Play, Spring, 2009, pp 511-512↩︎

  4. Peter Gray, ‘Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence’ in American Journal of Play, Spring, 2009, p. 514↩︎

  5. Peter Gray, ‘Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence’ in American Journal of Play, Spring, 2009, p. 492↩︎

  6. Verrier Elwin, The Muria and Their Ghotul, Oxford University Press, London, 1947↩︎

  7. Christopher Joseph An, ‘On learning, playfulness and becoming human’ in Philosophy, 93, 1, (2018)↩︎

  8. Plato, Laws 643 c, d. Translation by Benjamin Jowett↩︎

  9. Plato, Laws 659-660 Translation by Benjamin Jowett↩︎

  10. David Farrell Krell, ‘Towards an Ontology of Play: Eugen Fink’s notion of Spiel’ in Research In Phenomenology, 1972, Vol 2, p.79↩︎

  11. Cited by Barbara Beatty, ‘John Dewey’s High Hopes for Play: Democracy and Education and Progressive Era Controversies over Play in Kindergarten and preschool education’ in The Journal of Gilded Age and Progressive Era 16, (2017) p. 425↩︎

  12. Froebel was prompted by the make-believe games of children to insist on the use of symbolism in the activities and also strictly aver the use of real objects, insisting on the use of make-believe objects instead. Make-believe objects were supposed to trigger imagination in children.↩︎

  13. For Dewey’s critique of Froebelian methods see his lecture entitled ‘Froebel’s Educational Principles’ incorporated as chapter V of his book, School and Society. Dewey rejected the externally imposed structured games, the fetishism of symbols in the activities and the huge array of subject matter to be dealt with in the pre-school stage.↩︎

  14. Dewey, ’Froebel’s Educational Principles’. This was one of the three key principles he extracted from Froebel’s work.↩︎

  15. Dewey, ’Froebel’s Educational Principles’. This was one of the three key principles he extracted from Froebel’s work.↩︎

  16. This is the concluding sentence of his chapter on’ Play and work in the Curriculum’ in Democracy and Education.↩︎

  17. John Dewey, Democracy and Education, Chapter 15: Play and Work in the Curriculum.↩︎

  18. Dewey, ’Froebel’s Educational Principles’↩︎

  19. Gijubhai Badheka, the much-acclaimed Gujarati pedagogue, in his description of children playing in his imaginary school demonstrates the possibility of the class descending into Hobbesian ‘state of nature’ without the guidance of the teacher. He advocates play as an important educational method when under the guidance of a wise teacher. See Divasvapna Part 1, section VII.↩︎

  20. Larry Prochner, ‘Preschool and Playway in India’, in Childhood, Vol 9(4) 2002, p. 446↩︎