This is good - the National Union of Teachers (NUT) recognise the importance of playing, and the possible demise of it in schools. In a time when "work-life balance" is being spouted by every street corner lifecoach around, and programmes about getting away from stuffiness are all the rage, why shouldn't children get a slice of the cake too?
Somewhere along the line, someone discovered that you could push people to limits. Tell people they want money for long enough, and they'll throw themselves in the road for you. Now work out that "telling" involves an entire educational system - work hard, play soft, and you'll get the magic beans at the end of the day - and you start to put the system into overdrive.
Is play dangerous? If it is indeed "imaginative" then how does that affect children? Doesn't imagination involve coming up with your own thoughts, developing your own sense of who you are? Not that I'm cynical of the "education" system (oh, ok, I am really), but the whole idea of "playfulness" really goes against the hard-working, hard-shopping, economic grain that the majority of the system seems to foster.
There's a fine line between "playfulness" and "rebellious" or "non-serious", for example. In the mind of the politician (or, indeed, the CEO, etc), "targets" and "imagination" are at loggerheads. The term "Imagination" conjures up images of crazy potheads deciding that plugging the PC into a cat would be "a great idea". The twist is that the same sense of imagination is needed - shock, horror, et al - to be creative, which is where all that lovely "innovation" that consultants love to talk about comes from. Heh.
Anyway, the NUT actually ties all this in with self-harm, which is an interesting link:
"General secretary Steve Sinnott said there was "increasing evidence of the damage to children's health and well-being" - with more self-harm among teenagers."
I'd love to see the research behind this. Maybe we're just breeding a nation of Goths.
(On a sidenote, this is one of the best ideas I've ever seen...)