Bryggartäppan, playground in a history class

History get a bad rep, boring teachers droning on without much passion, meaningless (to many) regurgitation of lifeless names and useless memorization of dates and numbers. That is an unfortunate reality since as a subject, in schools all over the world, it is perhaps at an all time low of unpopularity. It’s extremely unfortunate because history is so important and history informs the state of the world today and the situations that we face, to paraphrase the former British Cardinal John Henry Newman, to cease to be deep in history is to commit them again.

Which is why vlogs such as Extra Credit do the topic a great history with some of the most amazing historical research and renditions of the subject and place them free of charge on youtube accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

But there are other ways to meld a sense of history at an even earlier stage, and perhaps the most creative design of an already designated public space I have seen in a while. Bryggartäppan is a history class in a playground, designed to allow children to play in a playground that looks like 19th century Sodermalm. This is a local example of a recreation of the past, a larger example also exists in Stockholm at the Skansen museum.

The site had always been part of a playground going back to the 1980s but when renovations and refurbishments were required in the 2000s, it was decided that the playground could be themed as a 19th century version of what Sodermalm would look like.

According to Wikipedia (and translated by Google Translate), “There is a paved street with a stone vault bridge, a horse rack, small slanting and winding wooden cages, the “Sista Styvern” pub, “Barnängens tekstilfabrik”, a smithy with the smith outside, an outdoor swimming pool (on stage) and much more. Everything is handcrafted in place and most of the houses are decorated. The children may go in and play with everything. During the dark season, the houses are illuminated. There are also the “usual” play equipment such as a slide, sandbox and swing board. Signs with quotes from Fogelström’s novel are found at some houses. The idea is that the adults should talk to their children about how people lived and lived in Stockholm in the past.

To be fair, I’m not sure how successful parents will be in talk to their still-too-young children about how life used to be in Sodermalm in the 19th century, but even if they do not, the simple fact of playing in a playground that looks different is a history lesson by diffusion.

Talk about ‘bringing history to life’.



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