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etheroux
Sep 01, 2019
In Research Reports
This past month I’ve been looking into the evasive Children's Own Museum (“COM”). It’s sad to witness the dwindling evidence of its existence due to the lack of funding it received from the time of its inception in 1998 to its disappearance in 2014. COM started out by renting a sizable space from the Royal Ontario Museum (“ROM”), but sadly the ROM wanted to expand so COM lost its space in 2002. Finding affordable rent space in an increasingly unaffordable city proved difficult, and COM consequently laid low until 2011. At this time, COM improvised and decided to create a mobile exhibit, so that the museum could be hosted at various locations in the province. The former COM became Children’s Own Media Museum (“COMM”) after collaborating with McLuhan’s Legacy Network, which is a group set up to promote the works of visionary Canadian icon Marshall McLuhan. COMM began developing content for schools and cultural centres across Ontario. The collaboration with the McLuhan Legacy Network continued to operate special interactive workshops and programs such as at the Harbourfront Centre in 2012/2013 and at the CN Tower in 2009. The last trace of COMM can be found on their fundraising page in 2014. It appears that their funding goal was never met, and their website is now out of service. After a 16-year fight for the Children's Own Museum, the Director of COM, Che Marville, moved on and became the Senior VP of a retirement assistance company.
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etheroux
Jul 23, 2019
In Research Reports
Summer is finally in full swing. Ontario Place is currently in a limbo state as the city of Toronto decides on permanent plans for this prime piece of waterfront real estate. The space isn't regularly occupied during the year, but in the summer it's used for festivals, concerts, and water activities. Back in the 70s, Eric McMillan created the Children's Village which was a successful outdoor playground that made use of the vast waterfront space that is Ontario Place. McMillan argued that the original design of Ontario Place didn't have enough appeal to young people, so the Children’s Village was opened in 1972 and became a popular destination within the park. It covered 2 acres of land and cost $700,000 to build. It was comprised of large nets to climb on, tube slides, a "foam swamp" of foam pieces below a plastic sheet, a "pogo-bird bounce", "punch-bag forest", and a 40,000 square feet bright orange vinyl canopy. It also contained 15 imaginative water games and a huge air-drying machine for sopping children. McMillan had even planned to create similar play areas for teenagers and perhaps even adults, but I have yet to look into his projects post Ontario Place (this project seemed to be his most notable one!). His work influenced play parks around the world (including Sesame Place and Parc de la Villette) and he became known as the father of "soft play". The Children’s Village was retired in 2002, leaving a solid 30 years of memories for Torontonians who grew up in the city during this time. Links to Super8 videos of the Children’s Village below: 1975: https://youtu.be/kj5x1vEmtQg 1985: https://youtu.be/5eW3BWHOJcc
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etheroux
Jul 23, 2019
In Research Reports
I took it on my own accord to research a concept I’ve come across in real life and in research: pretend play. There are several existing establishments that cater to this method of play. Pretend play is defined as symbolic behaviour in which one thing is playfully treated as if it were something else. Specifically, objects are used to represent other objects to make up stories, use fantasy, role-play, and to express themes (e.g., eating, monsters, fun games). The verdict of its importance is divided between some researchers swearing by its benefits, while others believe it is not essential to child development. Pretend play is associated with creativity since it requires children to use their imagination. In addition, it can promote the development of cognitive and social skills. Further, some researchers maintain that pretend play is an area where children appear to learn about constitutive rules. For example, a study was conducted with the purpose of determining if young children appear to understand the basic structure of constitutive rules in their pretence by proficiently and creatively tailoring their pretend actions to an object’s fictional status even when this changes between contexts (i.e., understanding a normative quality means for young children to be capable of coming to an understanding that social practices have a cultural dimension to them, such that members of a specific culture do things a certain way). Not much is known about children’s understanding of the normative component of constitutive rules, and so games of joint pretence offer an interesting opportunity to prove this understanding. Studies revealed that young children see the pretence-reality distinction, and the distinction between different pretence identities, as normative. More generally, the results of these studies demonstrate young children’s ability to enforce normative rules in their pretence and to do so context-specifically. While pretend play’s importance may be overlooked and its impact may require more research, I think it creates a fun, positive environment for children to experience and is definitely a concept worth exploring.
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etheroux
Jul 23, 2019
In Research Reports
The ethics application was submitted so my focus has shifted from ethics to assisting with conducting research. I delved deep into Palle Nielsen's exhibit that emerged out of the Playground movement in the 60s. Nielsen’s exhibit, which he titled the Model for a Qualitative Society, offered a space exclusively for children, without parents or educators. Art historian Lars Bang Larsen published a major source on the Model in which he views the exhibit as a utopia of a self-organized society that aimed to encourage personal freedom and collaboration between individuals. An additional source that I looked into was published by the ARKEN Museum of Modern Art in Denmark on their 2014 exhibition that replicated the Model. It contains several articles from academics and art historians, including Paul Nielsen himself. The authors often draw on the original Model to compare it with ARKEN’s 2014 version. Nielsen comments on his intention behind the original Model in 1968: rather than writing newspaper articles, he says, “[he] took direction action in the city spaces to show alternative solutions and dreams” (The Model 68). Before taking over the Moderna Museet in Stockholm and creating the Model in 1968, Nielsen took part in playground development planning in hopes of making the neighbourhood better for children. His priority was to deconstruct ‘the white cube’ as the idea of an art museum (68). His second aim was to blur the existing boundary between the artist and its surrounding society. It was interesting to learn the difference in intent behind the 1968 and 2014 versions of the Model. As I just mentioned above, in 2014 the ARKEN produced a reconstruction where Nielsen himself took part in the process. 46 years later following the original Model, the children demonstrated the same enthusiasm for the activity playground. That being said, the 2014 version may be a reconstruction, but a reconstruction can never be the same due to the passing of time. The main difference between the two involved the political objective behind the project. The 2014 Model was not a project for social change. Overall, it was a less anarchistic and more controlled experience than in 1968. Factors such as health and safety regulations have penetrated structure of the work (the Model 26). Further, playgrounds at this point were no longer subversive; in Denmark and in the rest of Scandinavia, for example, these types of constructed spaces were considered ‘natural’. Even in North America, there are establishments set up focused solely on creating playground spaces for children. And no museum today is without an activity programme for children. At the time, the Model was highly provocative – even Nielsen himself was becoming more isolated from the Danish art academy because of the political intent embedded in his artistic work. Another notable difference in the descriptions of the 1968 versus the 2014 Model is the incorporation of technology. For example, in the 2014 version, music and soundscapes could be played from iPads. Social media also played an integral role; the collection of photos in the ARKEN book demonstrates the various shared Instagram posts of photographs taken of children playing. Nielsen seems to be against the incorporation of technology as he believes it inhibits children from experiencing total freedom in a creative environment (The Model 71). While we want to stay current since it is not possible to ignore ever-expanding role of technology in our lives, it might be worth considering limiting technology’s involvement in a museum environment so as to not hinder children’s creative development. As Nielsen encourages, it is paramount for parents to “set their joy, imagination and creativity free – it makes them free, social and curious children.”
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etheroux
May 16, 2019
In Research Reports
Ethics Tutorial - Review of TCPS2 - the 2nd edition of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans. I enrolled in a tutorial necessary for graduate students to complete before engaging in research involving children. While the tutorial's interface appeared to be outdated (archaic graphics!), the content nonetheless remains of pertinent importance to conducting research relating to human behaviour. The tutorial highlights the delicate nature of having humans form a part of the research process. Given that our research involves minors, who are placed in a higher vulnerability class thus requiring a higher standard of care, a heightened approach to ethics is required. It is paramount to ensure the safety and comfort of all children, and for them to be informed as much as possible on the research project. The fruit of the project should not be as a result of negatively impacting its participants! Special considerations must be taken into account when working with children. For starters, parental/guardian consent is required for the child's participation since, according to the law, they may not be considered as capable of making decisions on their own behalf until they are 18. They also may be more vulnerable to coercion or controlling forces. While the Curating the Story Museum project is indeed a "low risk" project in terms of its ethical impact, it is still important to consider and to have an understanding of the sensitivity of working with children. Issues that could potentially arise are if the child feels obliged to participate even though they are experiencing discomfort or anxiety. To avoid this, we are meeting the children in their regular environment (i.e., the classroom) to ensure that they feel comfortable with their surroundings. And with that information in mind, we can remember that the wellbeing of the children comes first! :)
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etheroux
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