Friday, March 16, 2012

March 16

My favorite elementary school announcement: "Free Play!" Little did I know then that "Free Play"is also a philosophical concept created by Jacques Derrida. Derrida argues that when there is no "center" or structure, that all ideas/actions are relative and "play" off of each other. Does your head hurt yet? No? Then let's apply this to Shakespeare: when Harry gives the pre-game speech at the Battle of Agincourt, he depends on established rules ("Obey your king") and mutual understanding of abstract concepts (honor, e.g.).  These shared structures are the reasons why none of the soldiers say, "Oh man, who cares? Who died and made you king? What's the point of existence anyway?" It's clear that everyone understands the rules of engagement and the central purpose for the fight, and the only question is whether they can rise to the occasion.  If they were in a state of "free play" the soldiers would be free to invent roles, use their organization for an altogether different purpose, or strike off on their own for any reason real or imagined (or absolutely no reason at all).

To summarize: to a child on a playground, "free play" means a fun opportunity for independent decision-making. To a philosopher, "free play" means that everything is relative and lacks structure.

When do you think structure is important, and when do you think lack of structure is important?  You may consider this in the context of literature, learning, or life outside the classroom.  This isn't an easy topic, so feel free to discuss-- we will revisit this in a Socratic seminar next week.

1. Journal
2. Free Play (sort of: first make sure that you are on track with LA work and memorization)

HW: (no new assignments, just reminders)
1. Shakespeare due Monday 3.19
2. LA1 + Shakespeare essay in class Tuesday 3.20
3. LA2 book done and reading notes due Friday 3.23

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