Readers! Modern-day parenting keeps replacing playing time with “teaching time,” whether that’s time devoted to Sanskrit or soccer. Here’s a rather philosophical look at why play could be the ingredient that REALLY makes kids soar. (And society, too.) Thanks to Steve DeSanto for sending it in!
Dear Free-Range Kids: Your posting of the Gever Tulley “5 Dangerous things…” videoÂ and his Tinkering School got me to wondering if you were familiar withÂ Eric Hoffer, a philosopher and Longshoreman who became famous back in theÂ 1960s and was interviewed on TV several times! He also taught at Berkeley. You may have read his book “The True Believer” back in college.
Anyway, in one of his other books,Â “The Ordeal of Change,”Â he has a chapter entitled:Â “THE PLAYFUL MOOD.”Â I’m sending you this because of it’s relation to the importance ofÂ “Play” and innovations and inventions. Hoffer says:
“Men never philosophize or tinker more freely
than when they know that their speculation or tinkering leads to no
weighty results. We are more ready to try the untried when what we do is
inconsequential. Hence the remarkable fact that many inventions had their
birth as toys. In the Occident the first machines were mechanical toys,
and such crucial instruments as the telescope and microscope were first
conceived as playthings. Almost all civilizations display a singular
ingenuity in toy making…
“On the whole it seems to be true that the creative periods in history
were buoyant and even frivolous. One thinks of the lightheartedness of
Perclean Athens, the Renaissance, the Elizabethan Age, and the age of the
Enlightenment. Mr. Nehru tells us that in India ‘during every period when
her civilization bloomed, we find an intense joy in life and nature and a
pleasure in the art of living….’ ”
Hi. Lenore again, here. (I’d use different colors, but my tool bar is kaput.) Anyway, it’s cool to think about play leading to “real” results, including joy and telescopes. Â So, as I suggest in my book, if you think your kids might be slightly overscheduled, consider choosing one activity they don’t love and letting ’em drop it.
Be prepared for lightheartedness all around.