Children by nature are curious.

They want to explore their surroundings. They want to observe and understand the events happening around them. They then try to recreate these events according to their perception with whatever thing available around them. This is how they attempt to understand the world around them. We adults call this act ‘play’ and the things children use we take them as toys. To avoid children using ‘our stuff’ we get ready-made toys for children. But we are not aware that the introduction of readymade toys stops children’s true explorations.

Children learn life by living- experiencing, engaging, exploring……

Every act child does is meaningful.

Children are equipped by nature to ‘learn’ the real WORLD, but education trains them to learn the WORD — the description of the world! The ‘real’ world is alive, present, experiential, and dynamic. Through playful imitation, children learn life.

Modernity has fragmented the integral nature of life into several types of categories and packed them into neat compartments. Learning, working, and playing is one such compartment and so are play and toy. Children are born holistic and the world around them is integrated. But our artificial categories fragment their integral experience.

Childhood is the time when simultaneously several abilities, qualities, and knowledge is developed. The knowledge of where they belong, what is to be done there, how etc is learned, along with developing the tools, qualities, and abilities for learning? The language also is learned during this time. They learn to name the world, understand the connections, and also learn to communicate their understandings of the world.

Playfulness is the nature of the child and whatever they do becomes play and learning happens in the process. The child sitting on the soft sofa would naturally bounce feeling the bounciness of the sofa. This act is play and learning at the same time. The sofa becomes their ‘toy’ in this act. The notion of a toy as a miniaturized product is a modern invention supported by commercial interest as well as genuine misunderstanding. The toy is the material aspect of their play and often the body itself is used as the ‘toy’ especially when they imitate the object itself. Imitating vehicles is a good example.

Children play to re-experience or reenact the real experience they are having of the world. Children’s play that way is imitation as well as invention, imagination, and innovation by which their sensitivity, intelligence, and creativity are developed. They imitate one aspect of the experience and the rest gets invented through very innovative ways and the use of props which we call toys.

So, what does the world consists of? The world consists of ‘forms’, its functions, movements, processes, materiality and its qualities, human relationship, and various activities and interactions.

All this used to be the ‘subject’ of children’s play in traditional communities before modernity took away their time, space, and freedom.

In fact, Ready-made toys are more dangerous than schools and playworkers more dangerous than teachers. And unfortunately, modern parenting has taken on both these roles and forgotten how to be a ‘natural’ parent.

The 6-day course PLAY DISTORTS; TOY DISTRACTS’ is to understand the logic behind what children do spontaneously and how playful exploration develops the attitude, abilities, and qualities required to be a true learner. And how ready-made toys distract children from the real world and turn playful exploration of the real world into fragmented activities like learning, art, play, etc.

(Jan 24 26 28 30 Feb 1, 3 2021 Timings 7 TO 8 PM IST)