Dr Abe V Rotor
Yes. Toys and play are important in growing up and in learning about the world around us. They help us discover our identity, they help our bodies grow strong, and make us learn the cause and effect of what we do and in understanding the environment.
Even adults need toys; they form and strengthen social bonds. They teach and reinforce lessons, exercise the mind and body, and hone skills into use.
Toys decorate our homes, schools and playgrounds. They add aesthetics to our living space. Toys are more than simple amusement; they profoundly influence many aspects of life.
But is this the way we regard toys today?
• It’s a toy for the big boy - a hybrid of a jeep, rover, buggy and racer. With all its elaboration and sheer size it is not a toy in the strict sense of the word. It is one for Jules Verne and Flash Gordon.
• Life-size dolls, the like of McDonald or Jollibee figurines, come in various shapes one can easily inflate or assemble. Sometimes they are actually mascots. They guard the garden and porch, keep us company, and tell the story of Gulliver, and keep Mardi Gras alive year round.
• Booming sounds and tweeters, percussion, wind and string altogether, make a potpourri of music – or is it noise? Auditory toys, they are called, they abound in passenger jeeps, shops and homes. Just walk through Raon and Evangelista streets, the music center of Manila, .
• It is entertainment for you and the kids to visit a toy center in a mall. Take time out, you were in fantasyland. Toys, toys, toys – for grown ups and kids, you need to come back to see more, from electronic gadgets to make-it-yourself kits.
• Athletics stores today carry toy items as many as real sporting goods, that often you can’t decipher a real gun and a toy gun, a bicycle for racing or for exhibition, a kid’s boxing gloves from the real one. Name a toy and you can find it in a sports center.
• Automotive accessories make your car your traveling home – from cup holder to inflatable bed. From the inside and outside of a loaded car, there are all sorts of decors that take you to US, Germany, Japan, China - in fact around the world.
. Computer games are all over. Children and adults engage for hours everyday in these games robbing them of precious time for work and study, spawning many problems that are destroying the future of young people. Have you heard of computer addiction? Electronics syndrome?
. Sports have evolved into more dangerous games such as bungee jumping, sky skiing, cage-wrestling. Daredevil sports continue to evolve with new technologies, among them free fall gliding.
No Christmas and No Toys
There was a time when toys were outlawed, so to speak. This was during the Second World War when America needed more weapons and not toys. There is a time for every, the president told the world.
When I saw a film about suspending Christmas in America during the First World War, I thought that the idea was good. For how can a nation at war afford to manufacture toys, celebrating Christmas at home when thousands of its citizens are out there in the battlefield? So the campaign was – No Christmas, No Toys. At least temporarily until the war is over. So toy companies went into manufacturing arms and war materiels, people were told to buy bonds, not toys. Logical, isn’t?
Until the president of one of Americas biggest toymakers AC rallied against the campaign, and before the US Congress closed for the Christmas, he convinced the body to re-consider the campaign. So convincing was his approach by showing toy models that the President himself lifted the No Christmas and No Toys Campaign that very Christmas.
What was AC’s selling point? First, he rode on the foundation of American culture that gives importance to important events and celebrations. But the key was his revolutionary concept of toys. Toy models that stir the mind of the young to associate themselves with issues, to stir imagination and invention. Learning toys.
Today with the changing times that is becoming more and more difficult, what are toys for? We may ask. In the first place, toys are becoming expensive. Even then if the value of the toy commensurates the cost, it would be all right. But it is not always the case.
Consider the following:
1. Toys that help children to learn – learn positively and functionally, meaning, toys that have applied value, toys that can increase functional literacy.
2. Toys that arouse inventive skills. Not toys that merely stimulate curiosity that by so doing, toys are dismantled and eventually destroyed without satisfying curiosity itself – much less added to basic and functional knowledge.
3. What should be the toys of the poor, children in marginal communities? Are there toys that can help them in their plight – at least ultimately, in one way or the other. If there are toys of this kind, what are their special features?
4. How do we differentiate toys from gadget, say a cellphone or computer? Computer games need re-classification. What is entertainment and what is function?
5. Electric devices have taken out the quaintness and challenges of toys. They also rob our children of their time to play, to attend to their hobbies, and to be at the playground or in the countryside with nature.
6. Devise games that teach children values. Games that do not only make us aware of our responsibilities as citizens by at members of the living world – as ecologists or environmentalists.
7. What happen to toys afterward? Are toys for recycling? Are they transformable in the sense that they can be useful again with the lesson they carry? Should toys be permanent or at least lasting.
8. Do toys create a healthy archetype which children will use as tool when they grow up? Can toys be shared in strengthening values, in building skills, etc.?
Art of toy making
. Kite making and kite flying. Why don't you encourage your children to enter into kite competition?
. Spinning top. Making one is a challenge to physics of motion and balance.
. For the inventive young mind, make solar-powered toys, instead of using battery and electricity.
. There are many useful gadgets in school and home. Here toys do not only entertain; they are useful. We can these functional toys. ~