Friday, April 20, 2012

the meaning of play...

According to Susan E. Blow in her 1894 book, Symbolic Education,
"No student of childhood will challenge the assertion that its most characteristic manifestation is play. What flight and air are to the bird, play is to the child; it is both his distinctive activity and the element in which his life moves. In play he suffers the constraint neither of alien will nor of the self-imposed purpose, but exercises an activity which is its own end and its own reward. To study him in his play is, therefore, to study him when he is most himself..."

"The same instinct which impels the baby to push with his feet against his mother's breast inspires the child's love of running, leaping, wrestling, and throwing. The delight he feels is in the consciousness of force; the stimulus to exertion, the resistance to be overcome. Moreover, by measuring himself against others he compels them to recognize his strength, and thus satisfies that craving for recognition which is at all times the deepest hunger of the human heart."
One cannot spend time in a city park or on school grounds without witnessing the child's inclination to test his or her own strength and physical capacity. The same is true in wood shop. My first grade student, Conner has a fascination with the vises mounted to each of our CSS workbenches. Smushing things in the vise is an irresistible inclination for him. The vise imparts super human strength, and with it a child can feel his own power. In Conner's fascination with the vise, you can see the truth of what Susan E. Blow's described as, "the consciousness of force."

In other words, play is not a thing to take lightly, and wood shop is not just wood shop.

Make, fix and create...

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