Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Poorly designed playgrounds & the disappearing childhood

I have been paying attention to the design of playgrounds recently. My goodness, they are so poorly designed! Chia-lat, man! (Whichever agency is in charge of playgrounds, please don't sue me!)

In the past, the playgrounds are sites of great fun and adventure! Two of the key artefacts that contribute to such great fun and adventure are the see-saw and the swing. A third important thing to include in any decent playground would be sand. So, in short, what we need are the three S's - see-saw, swing, and sand. But what has happened to the three S's??

We can speculate on the reasons for this disappearance - policymakers' desire to have complete cleanliness (after all, sand can mess up the surrounding areas), the need to conserve land and hence the need for smaller playgrounds, and the wish to please those paranoid parents who cannot bear seeing their child fall down on the sand and scratch him/herself. It is possible that over time, parents have become more and more protective of their children, and this may have contributed to the disapperance of the third S - the sand (and possibly the first and second S's too, although one would have to adopt a very loose definition of 'danger' in order to consider the see-saw and the swing as 'dangerous').

I suppose those who made decisions about playgrounds did not consider the views of two groups of stakeholders - parents who are not so paranoid, and the children themselves. If they did, and if they had bothered to do some field research (e.g. an anthropological study of how the children are enjoying themselves on the playground), they will realize that the children of today, in Singapore, are a bit bored with the tiny, adventure-less, and abstract-looking playgrounds! In fact, there's a fourth S that we can criticize - the pathetic slides ('hua-ti') which take just one second to slide down! How can this possibly be fun?? Even if it is mildly fun, how can it be exhilarating?!) For me, thankfully, I had the pleasure of enjoying a majestic, exciting, and awesome Dragon Head playground when I was a kid - hence I am happy now! Hahaha! :)

In conclusion, I am nostalgic and I yearn for the day when awesome playgrounds can return. The tiny, artificial-looking playgrounds are boring and uninspiring, for on top of the lack of the three or four S's, they lack themes. So they are not awesome, but awful. How can Singapore become a world-class city if we do not have world-class playgrounds?! I am going to find out which agency is responsible for playgrounds and 'grumble' or 'complain' to them, despite what ST journalist Chua Mui Hoong said. And following PM Lee's advice, I'm going to come out and change things if all my feedback fall on deaf ears. I'll buy an axe (to chop down some trees for the wood), a shovel, and other essential tools (a drill, maybe?) and build my own preferred playground downstairs if necessary. After all, as the official rhetoric says, 'Change it, do something, don't just whine!!!!'


Blogger jllt said...

Haha! You beat me to it. Was going to talk about the pathetic lack of real playgrounds nowadays.

Wed May 18, 05:36:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Ah Huat said...

I know the REAL reason why playgrounds in Singapore have become so unappealing.

Which irresponsible parent in his/her right mind would let his/her kids play at the playground while the neighbor's kids are attending English/Chinese/Math/Science tuition? How can we ever hope to become a world-class nation if the next generation of Singaporeans are wasting time in playgrounds instead of studying hard or taking extra lessons?

Thu May 19, 04:25:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hahaha! That's plausible! So you are suggesting that playgrounds are purposely designed to be boring so that children would rather be studying?! Interesting!

But the kids are so young (1 to 4 years old), do they need to 'study'? What's there to study?

Thu May 19, 08:01:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hi jllt: haha, paiseh! The early bird catches the worm!! ;)

Thu May 19, 08:02:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Xin said...

haha...to think i wrote abt it in my blog like..last year! lost childhood man...how i yearn to sit on swings...and see saws..and go on slides where excitment don't end in just 1 sec. Went for my friend's bday party last saturday and hey...there was a swing!! i guess you know what i would have done.... so.... :p

p/s: even the sand pit at my place has become a...concrete pavement. Kids would rather sit by the pool... watching vcd/dvds on a laptop.

Thu May 19, 05:05:00 PM 2005  
Blogger tyme said...

yah yah.. i agree.. even though the dragon head playground wasn't that fun.. it was very impressive... now.. all the colourful plastic stuff looks so fake.. nowadays kids.. fall down see blood cry.. last time fall down see blood.. wipe it off and play somemore.. haha..

Fri May 20, 01:32:00 AM 2005  
Blogger jllt said...

tyme: Yeah! I spun my brother around when we were little, he fell, bled and wanted more.

Until he went home and puked that is. Thank god he's normal. Now.

Fri May 20, 01:39:00 AM 2005  
Anonymous JaN said...

I really pity the kids nowadays. All they do is study and they can't even have a decent playground!
I really think that parents are over paranoid and protective, such that we have a new generation of young empresses and emperors. Kids nowadays are so protected that they are forbidden to do anything that seems "risky". Even a playground is risky now!Yeah..like what tyme said, when we were young, see blood just carry on playing. Kids nowadays? tsk tsk.
It may be out of the topic, but i really don't like the way that Singaporeans are raising their kids.They are much too pampered.I see my aunt feeding her 8 yr old son.This is too over already. Just wait and see. Soon they will grow up and the society will be made up of a new generation of spoilt brats.

Sat May 21, 10:11:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Very interesting posts! We should write to the agency-in-charge! :)

Tue May 24, 09:46:00 AM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Does anyone know how to list all my entries under the "previous posts" section (rather than just the most recent 10)? :)

Tue May 24, 09:48:00 AM 2005  
Anonymous Pauline said...

Hi Sir!

I totally agreed with your proposition. A few years back when I noticed that playgrounds around me started transforming, I was really upset and bemused. I loved every bit of the old type of playground and hated every bit of the new one.

Sometimes, it amuses me that the 'higher authorities' have tried really hard to push for creative thinking and ironically they prevented their own success by building 'intellectually-challenged' playgrounds.

Sometimes, it troubles me that children nowadays are missing the best part of childhood like you have mentioned. Comparing the childhood they have today and that of ours in the past, I wonder if the stark difference aids or hinders the child's development.

It does show not all tech/human development advances in the right path doesnt it?

Tue May 24, 06:13:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Hi pauline: I would like to propose building MEGA playgrounds which are at least 200m long & 50m wide...for endless fun and happiness for the kids! :>

Wed May 25, 09:55:00 AM 2005  
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