Play and Toys as Cultural Tools and Practices: A Comparative Study

Play and Toys as Cultural Tools and Practices: A Comparative Study

Işık Kamaraj (Marmara University, Turkey), Ozana Ural (Marmara University, Turkey) and Fethiye Esra Molu (Marmara University, Turkey)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5167-6.ch014
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Culture can be defined as the set of beliefs, traditions, values, customs, and norms specific to a group of people; it is acquired through the socialization process and is dominant and effective in all of our daily practices. Culture refers to the traditions and values of our communities, and through play, children explore and learn the rules and symbols of their communities. People of each generation, as they engage in sociocultural endeavors with other people, make use of and extend cultural tools and practices inherited from previous generations. This chapter aims to compare the use of two historical toys in two different cultures as cultural tools (“Eyüp Toys” and “Nuremberg Toys”); two activities in two different cities as cultural practices (“World Play Day” activities in Istanbul and the Toys Fair in Nuremberg); and finally, two institutions in two different cities as cultural institutions (Ataşehir Municipiality Düştepe [Dreamhill] Game Museum in Istanbul and Toy Collection at Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg).
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Toys As Cultural Tools

Cultural tools can be defined as the tools which shape cognitive development and can include both technical tools, which act on the environment and psychological tools, which are tools for thinking.

Cultural tools are needed to transfer culture qualifications to everyday life. Learning to play and toys in the social-cultural context in everyday practices is very important for cultural learning and language is one of the cultural tools to which Vygotsky attaches importance for use in a socio-cultural context. According to Vygotsky, games, toys, and language are all tools for the learning and transmission of culture. Tomasello, Kruger and Rather (1993) noted that cultural learning takes place in three ways in the following order:

  • 1.

    Imitative Learning: The first type of cultural learning is clearly imitative learning, in which the learner internalizes something of the demonstrator’s behavioral strategies (Tomasello, Kruger & Ratner, 1993).

  • 2.

    Instructed Learning: The second type of learning, that is essentially Vygotskian, is the learning in which learners internalize the instructions of the teacher and use them subsequently to self-regulate their own attentional, mnemonic, or other cognitive functions (Tomasello, Kruger & Ratner, 1993).

  • 3.

    Collaborative Learning: The third type of learning; that is collaborative learning, does not involve transmission from mature to immature organism in the classic sense because, by definition, the situation consists of peers collaborating to construct something new that neither had before the interaction began (Tomasello, Kruger & Ratner, 1993)

Figure 1.

Direction of intentionality in the three cultural learning situations

Source: (Tomasello, Kruger & Ratner, 1993)

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