Wednesday, January 11, 2017

let's play

We live in a world that's incredibly complex. Even the objects that we use each day are complex beyond what we could imagine making for ourselves. For example, this morning I went out to retrieve the SD cards from the game cameras that inform me of the activity around our feral hog trap. On the SD cards were deer and coons, not pigs, but in order to see what was on them I used a card reader attached to this computer, which responds to my touch now as I write these words. And of course I could have made none of these things in this life by myself.

So what's the point in having children make real things when machines can be set up to spew complex objects into the waiting arms of consumers? Is the making of individual objects no longer of use to society?

There are those who are quite happy inhabiting a dream world of artificial reality constructed of bits and bytes of data placed on screens. And perhaps if we make much more of a mess of our environment, killing or letting die whole species as our planet warms, our forests burn and our seas become cesspools, the world we make up will become more important to us than the real world we've destroyed.

On Monday we had a substitute teacher who had taught at Clear Spring School for a number of years, but had taken this year off. She is particularly good at mobilizing the kids to play outside, all regardless of age, running and playing the same game while our newer teachers have developed the habit of checking their smart phones at lunch and at recess. It was wonderful to watch the kids and teacher run and play, all together as I had seen so many times before.

To run and to play in the real world is exciting for kids, just as is the making of real things, regardless of complexity. It may be called play, but play is the essence of effective learning, a rule that applies at all ages.

A class of kids in the wood shop is best experienced for oneself. I can describe how they apply themselves, how they encourage each other, and the pride they take in their work. I can tell you how the children play together at recess and at lunch, and the importance of the adult playing with them to draw every child in. But some things you just need to see for yourself.

I spent most of the day yesterday at my desk paying taxes and preparing for tax season. It is an odious task. And yes, not all in life is wonderful, and we all must face and conquer on a routine basis, things that are not fun.The consequences of not doing so are also real, just as is the sun streaming through the branches of a tree. But does that mean we must through schooling groom children for a life of drudgery? Or may we lift their spirits through play? I hope for the latter.

Make, fix, create, and offer others the opportunity to learn likewise.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:15 AM

    I had to smile while reading your post.

    First: Some hours ago I read a story of a woman who made "vacations from smartphone" and describes the more time, presence and concentration she gained through it.

    Second: Yesterday I first heard the story of the two wolfes - and that it depends on you who will survive, by feeding the one or the other. Selfreflection: I am very choosy when it comes to "playing" (of any kind). Since a short while I do say "Yes", more often than I usually did. And it often shows me new ways of interacting, new perspectives and makes fun, too.

    Third: My tax stuff is waiting for me. "Odious task", as you write: This is a new term in my passive vocabulary - but it hits the nail in this case!