Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Lovely moments of today part 2!

I also went to go play improv games with some kiddos who are former refugees who have settled in the US.  It is the highlight of my week, even though I've only done it twice.  By all accounts this session was a HOT MESS (8 things going on in the room, huge unfocused space, too many kids, too many age groups combined, not enough common language skills--myself most of all), but it was wonderful and I can't wait to do more!  Their summer camp is over, but the plan is to do some after school stuff once school starts.  And maybe with some women's groups.

I'm completely inspired by Jane Addams, Neva Boyd, and Viola Spolin.

The kids and I PLAYED.

Oh, internet people, if I had one wish, or won the lottery, or perhaps what I will just put good old fashioned hard work, elbow grease, and my own (FORMIDABLE) determination towards, is that I would--would that I do!--operate a community center.  Play and creativity for everyone!  Childcare and cooking classes!  Community meals and meals for people who need them.  I know...funding...always the rub.  Churches?  Wealthy individuals?  Sale of arts, crafts, and delish meals and breads?  I'm still working on that part.  Like Jane Addams and Hull house.  Maybe I should see where there are already some wheels spinning first, rather than start to fashion my own.  Then again, maybe I could fashion a better one without a model. (Yes, I am still pretty young.)  Well, Neva Boyd shall be my model!

Neva L. Boyd was a teacher, sociologist and educational theorist. In 1911 she organized the Chicago Training School for Playground Workers. From 1914 to 1920 she was Director of the Department of Recreation in the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy. Then, in 1921, she founded the Recreational Training School at Chicago's Hull House.

From 1924 to 1927 she had Viola Spolin (see below) as a student living in her house.

Spolin writes:
I received from her an extraordinary training in the use of games, storytelling, folk dance, and dramatics as tools for stimulating creative expression in both children and adults, through self-discovery and personal experiencing. The effects of her inspiration never left me for a single day.

From 1927 until she retired in 1941 Boyd worked as a sociologist on the faculty of Northwestern University (at Evanston, Illinois), teaching play theory, leadership and group organization. After retiring she became a consultant to the Activity Therapy Program of the Illinois Department of Welfare, working in the State School system. She continued to teach, and to use play in teaching, virtually until her death in 1963
Neva Boyd: The spirit of play develops social adaptability, ethics, mental and emotional control, and imagination. These are the more complex and adjustments a child learns through play. In play, there are adjustments to new situations constantly. Play experience can prepare the person for purposefulness in non-play activities, for true play creates the incentive to use one’s best ability. Through play a person can develop a pattern of self-reliance and self-confidence. Well-chosen play activities have potentially unique value seldom understood or actualized. In the process of play, new powers emerge, such as bodily coordination, and aesthetic sensitivity. New values are experienced by the player, such as new social obligation to contribute to the maintenance of the common project undertaken by play group. Play activities yield immediate satisfaction to the players and the results of the effort are certain....Teaching a child how to behave, usually by verbal instruction, results in teaching the child the way to behave and is in fact taking possession of the child and dictating the finished form of behavior. Such children are often spoken of as being “beautifully trained”. Such training creates mental rigidity. Young children can be made to accept such training as if it were the only way to behave, but it leaves them ill equipped in originality for solving their problems, or making judgments and acting upon them, thereby testing their judgment.

And Viola Spolin... well, first she's like the godmother of Second City and American improv.  So there is that.
Plus... While serving as drama supervisor for the Chicago branch of the Works Progress Administration's Recreational Project (1939-1941) (Yes, that is right, during the Great Depression, the gov't paid Spolin to make theater games with kiddos!!!  WHERE IS THAT JOB NOW???!), Spolin perceived a need for an easily grasped system of theater training that could cross the cultural and ethnic barriers within the WPA Project (the WPA project was for the purpose of bringing theater to depressed, overindustrialized and impoverished neighborhoods.  Spolin worked with children and adults to take an extremely diverse group and turn them into actors who actually wrote their own plays.)  Building upon the experience of Boyd's work, she responded by developing new games that focused upon individual; creativity, adapting and focusing the concept of play to unlock the individual's capacity for creative self-expression. These techniques were later to be formalized under the rubric "Theater Games."

So, I have role models... I have a vision...

Vamos a ver.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Carolyn, I'm enjoying your blog! I'm excited to see where you'll go with these ideas...