At first glance, the experience offered by KidZania appears to draw on aspects both of symbolic play—the “let’s pretend” aspect of dressing up as a fireman—and of rule-based play, with its enactment of conformity to civic regulation. But by some definitions the activities at KidZania, however entertaining, barely qualify as play at all. Thomas Henricks, a professor of sociology at Elon University and the author of the forthcoming “Play and the Human Condition,” offers a list of the requirements for play: that children have chosen their own activities and their own play environment, that children decide whom they play with, that children decide their own rules and determine the stakes of the game or activity, that children choose when play begins and when it ends, and that children get to determine what their play means.
In KidZania, adults determine the content of activities in advance, and Zupervisors follow scripts that offer children little room for ingenuity or deviation. (There is no activity at KidZania that would do much to nurture the entrepreneurial skills of a young Xavier López Ancona.) The activities last, on average, about twenty minutes—and are far from open-ended or exploratory. Even artistry is directed. I passed by the art studio, where small children sat before easels, coloring in preprinted cartoon images of Urbano or Chika.
The plain fact is that there is no such thing as an institutional force that subjugates men just for being men, and arguing that one does exist makes you look naïve at best and also takes up valuable space in discussions where people are actually trying to accomplish something.
ADHD does not look the same in boys and girls. Women with the disorder tend to be less hyperactive and impulsive, more disorganized, scattered, forgetful, and introverted. ‘They’ve alternately been anxious or depressed for years,’ [Dr. Ellen] Littman says. ‘It’s this sense of not being able to hold everything together.’
I never would have suspected my symptoms were symptoms; rather, I considered these traits—my messiness, forgetfulness, trouble concentrating, important-document-losing—to be embarrassing personal failings.
Every time you see a headline that makes you want to scream get up and pour yourself a glass of water. Drink the whole thing and see if you still want to click on that link.
Mute or unfollow that person that you follow on Twitter even though you hate them.
When parents ask, “What did you do in school today?”, kids often respond, “Nothing.” Howard Gardner pointed out that they’re probably right, because “typically school is done to students.” This sort of enforced passivity is particularly characteristic of classrooms where students are excluded from any role in shaping the curriculum, where they’re on the receiving end of lectures and questions, assignments and assessments. One result is a conspicuous absence of critical, creative thinking – something that (irony alert!) the most controlling teachers are likely to blame on the students themselves, who are said to be irresponsible, unmotivated, apathetic, immature, and so on. But the fact is that kids learn to make good decisions by making decisions, not by following directions.
The show itself? Not bad. Very smart, actually: It combines the current vogue for female empowerment via pseudo-historical fiction (Outlander, Game of Thrones, Mad Men) with a smart customer-retention strategy (filling the consumer demand for a female-driven Marvel project) with a built-in audience from a hot property (Captain America). It also manages to comport itself in a manner that is not obviously a cash grab, and to address—not to say “pander to”—feminist concerns.
And yet something nagged at me throughout the time I watched it—a sense that the show’s decent treatment of gender issues is less an earnest statement of the show runners’ personal values than a canny PR move on the behalf of pop-culture juggernaut Disney, owner of Marvel and, increasingly, just about everything else in the U.S. and global media landscape these days.