Hot Bread and Butter - the play

Among the Games Preserve Reports, you'll find my description of the performance of a game called Hot Bread and Butter. And somewhere amongst the vast collection of articles on the Deep Fun site, is a semi-lyrical Meditation, also about this game. Here's a part:
The children scatter like an exploded lightbulb, shattering into screams. Some stay close to each other. Others gallop into the frontier, probing the darkest secrets of the street. More screams. Someone has found the belt! There she is, rushing around, twirling the belt over her head like a lariat, hitting everybody who dares be near. Everyone races home. Until the last one herds himself into the cowering mass. Laughter. Finally silence. Eyes closed. Listening. She hides the belt."Hot Bread and Butter," among other things, represents an idea of power. To gain power, you must 1) take certain risks, and 2) be lucky. Alliances don’t seem to be of much help. Those who stay too close to home don't have much fun.

Whoever is brave enough to leave home behind, and lucky enough to find the belt, gets to hide the belt next time.
You gain power through risk and luck - not through direct confrontation - but only once the power has already been left for you to find. As a child grows towards adulthood, he ranges further and further away from home, approaching the time in which adult power is left to him - if he can find it. But it is the opportunity that he must seize, there is no person to confront. The power of an adult cannot be taken from an adult, it must be discovered within the person of the child.
See what I mean? 


A Brief History of Bottle Trees

Here's a story about a Bottle Tree, similar in visual splendor and recycled remarkability to the The Recycled Plastic Bottle Tree Hangings of Russia, but of a reportedly totally different tradition:
Glass 'bottle trees' originated in ninth century Kongo during a period when superstitious Central African people believed that a genii or imp could be captured in a bottle. Legend had it that empty glass bottles placed outside, but near, the home could capture roving (usually evil) spirits at night, and the spirit would be destroyed the next day in the sunshine. One could then cork the bottles and throw them into the river to wash away the evil spirits....Thomas Atwood, in History of the Island of Domi (1791), made particular note of the bottle tree as a protection of the home through an invocation of the dead. Atwood writes of the confidence of the natives "in the power of the dead, of the sun and the moon---nay, even of sticks, stones and earth from graves hung in bottles in their gardens."
And I thought they were just for fun.

And I still think so.

via FunSon

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The Theater of Games

In my article, The Theater of Games, I begin to describe children's games as if they were a kind of literature, real literature, sometimes exceptionally profound literature, a literature like, if you'll forgive the implications, plays.

Recently, I've come to realize how central this insight is to most of what I've been teaching and doing for the last 40 years: how valuable and fun for parents and teachers and youth leaders to think of children's games as performances as significant and meaningful as theater pieces.

So, with this post, I hope to share my sometimes amusing musings, and invite you to do the same.

I first wrote about games (social games, board games, even card games) as a performed art in a series of Games Preserve Reports that I started writing in 1971. But it wasn't until four years ago that I actually realized I was talking about games as theater. Here's a part of it where I write about a game I've probably talked about several hundred times - "Duck Duck Goose."
I had to play it first. And when I did, I realized that the clearly silly game of Duck-Duck-Goose fully satisfied my criteria for a meaningful, kid-produced, kid-acted, kid-directed, theatrical experience. It was highly dramatic. It was something they actually wanted to do, actually could organize and become engaged with. Thus I began work on my “theater” curriculum and my lifelong exploration of the Theater of Games.

I soon discovered I was working within a global theater. Searching for more and more games, I found books of games from all over the world. The Games that are played out in the Theater of Games are in fact a form of literature – not written, maybe, not even oral, perhaps, but “enacted” – and thus handed down, from generation to generation, brother to brother, culture to culture. The literature of games can convey complex relationships, roles and consequences, issues of conflict and heroism.

See also Of Geese, Wolves, Games and Culture.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


The Fun of Teaching and Learning

With a little help from friends and bloggers, I'll be launching a new series of programs about the Fun of Teaching and Learning. The programs will include presentations and workshops that focus on the psychology, sociology, and dynamics of fun in learning and teaching.

As advertised, they will be about the fun of teaching as much as the fun of learning, and I hope to offer them at every level of education.

Some of the concepts and experiences I'll be including in the program:

For me, being in a position to make education more fun has been a lifelong goal. I figure that's a far more sustainable goal. I'll be offering the program for modest, negotiable fees, wherever I can.

I could most definitely use your assistance in word-spreadage.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Best Birthday Present, ever

I really don’t know for sure who or what gave me this - my parents, their and theirs - the gift of life. So many people. So many other lives. So much love.

All I know for sure is that it’s the best birthday present, ever.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

Hi8us Interruptus - The Ad Consumer Experience

We interrupt this hiatus for a special message.

Any attempt to bring humor, lightheartedness, laughter into this world - even when it is supported by the most blatant of commercial exigencies, is worthy of note. Especially when it takes the form of an interactive weblog. And even more especially when that blog is written by my son, Elyon.

The ethno-Judaic expression for my personal experience in reading this blog is nachas (the Yiddish meaning, as opposed to the purported Mexican slang). His blog, the Ad Consumer Experience, reports on signs of commercially-inspired compassion, caring, playfulness, and humor. 

What he brings to light is rare enough in any context, and particularly inspiring to find in a world dedicated pretty much solely to making money.  

It's a good read. Noteworthy. Inspiring even. He's a fun son. I'm a glad dad.