Aroundsquare's Matthew Hiebert was interviewed recently by TDmonthly Magazine on toys and play and AO2's work as a social enterprise. Excerpt below, and full text at the link which follows.. enjoy!
Q. How do you hope your products affect children’s' lives?
A. I think that the value of real open-ended creative play is under-recognized. So many toys aim to entertain or educate or otherwise occupy (in the colonial sense) children's minds. Those kinds of toys put the child into a passive role, following instructions or trying to achieve a singular goal. This may have bee appropriate to industrial-era education and child development. It helped to develop the cogs in the big social and economic machine. Today, there may still be a place for that kind of play, but it definitely shouldn't be the only thing. Good citizenship in our context requires much more than servility, and toys have an important role to play in helping the child develop autonomy. At Aroundsquare, we believe it should be the child that plays with the toy, not the other way around…the child should be in charge of the relationship!
Aroundsquare's motto, "play today: build tomorrow" captures the spirit of what I hope for. If we give more space to the child, if we don't tell them what to do or how to do it, they are confronted with freedom and ambiguity, and they are incredible little beings in how quickly they rise to the challenge! They begin to form their own ideas, develop their own ways to play. This can be a fundamentally empowering experience. I see a really clear connection between this kind of play and the development of the kind of citizens we need to meet the challenges that lay ahead.
Read the full article here.