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By Scott Meikle

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This sense of play is thoroughly linked with the Romantic aesthetic (Olfman 2003a, 206), crystallizing into an aesthetic-pedagogical theory in Friedrich Schiller’s notion of “aesthetic education” (Schiller 1954). As I detail in chapter 5, the formation of the Eastern European nation, ostensibly prompted by Habsburg oppression, was significantly informed by German Romanticism, most of all by Johann Gottfried Herder’s prediction of the death of small nations (Barany 1998). By necessity, nationalist historians—Palacky, Iorga, Hrushevsky—were not so much scholars as “ ‘myth-making intellectuals,’ who combined a ‘romantic’ search for meaning with a scientific zeal to establish this on authoritative foundations” (Hutchinson 1994, 123).

This mythification of the computer—often in favorable comparison to television—harks back to the computer-field breakthroughs of the 1960s. These inspired the “information-processing” model of cognition, which likens the mind to the computer (Olfman 2003a, 7). There is an undeniable synergy between mechanistic models of the mind and the current technological revolution, where the goal of education is to prepare kids to serve global, technology-based industries (8). The universal push for wired classrooms and homes is also popular because the rhetoric of easy access to the Internet and the leveling effect of standardized testing are wrapped in the rhetoric of democracy, embodying and reviving the American Dream (7).

For educational psychologists such as Joan Almon, play is a “natural” and “healthy” tool of social control. Allowing children to play is the best way to prevent the subsequent use of mental hospitals and prisons. Almon proposes to organize a “massive public education campaign about play” to protect children’s right to play, to “create a protective circle around childhood” (Almon 2003, 40). For many critics, while the technology of Internet use and computer gaming may not be consciously controlled by politicians and business executives, it is driven by market forces and the computer industry’s links with the military.

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