Friday, December 9, 2011

A perk

One of the perks about Johann's soon to be profession is if you worked with someone during school, practicum or internship, chances are they'll be sending you information on movements and thoughts in/on education. It can get a little bit much or a bit annoying at times, sure, but every once and a while there is an article Johann thinks I'd find interesting and forwards it on. So I just wait for interesting stuff to be dropped at my feet. It's great.

The most recent article he sent on was about young children and play. It's taken from a speech given in November this year by a fellow name Alfie Kohn. I'm not going to rehash everything he said but here are the five points he covered concerning young children and play:

1. “Play” is being sneakily redefined-“Most of the activities set up in ‘choice time’ or ‘center time’ [in early-childhood classrooms] and described as play by some teachers, are in fact teacher-directed and involve little or no free play, imagination, or creativity.”

2. Younger and older children ought to have the chance to play together-"...older kids are uniquely able to provide support -- often referred to as “scaffolding” -- for younger kids in mixed-age play. The older children may perform this role even better than adults because they’re closer in age to the younger kids and also because they don’t “see themselves as responsible for the younger children’s long-term education [and therefore] typically don’t provide more information or boosts than the younger ones need. They don’t become boring or condescending.”

3. Play isn’t just for children-"Read virtually any account of creativity, in the humanities or the sciences, and you’ll find mentions of the relevance of daydreaming, fooling around with possibilities, looking at one thing and seeing another, embracing the joy of pure discovery, asking 'What if….?'"

4.The point of play is that it has no point- "One plays because it’s fun to do so, not because of any instrumental advantage it may yield. The point isn’t to perform well or to master a skill, even though those things might end up happening. In G. K. Chesterton’s delightfully subversive aphorism, 'If a thing is worth doing at all, it’s worth doing badly.'"

5.Play isn’t the only alternative to “work.”-"Work and play don’t exhaust the available options. There’s also learning, whose primary purpose is neither play-like enjoyment (although it can be deeply satisfying) nor work-like completion of products (although it can involve intense effort and concentration)."

So what's the point: Stop bugging your kid, freaking out if he/she knows the alphabet, can count to 100 or read by 4 and let him/her just play without any 'point' at all.

*If anyone wants the full article just email me or facebook message me and I'll forward it to you.


Mika said...

I read a book by Alfie Kohn called No Contest: The Case Against Competition. It basically argued that when we make all rewards extrinsic, it actually decreases the real enjoyment of an activity. I'm glad you reminded me of it - I think there are a lot of things that we should do because we want to do them, not because we want the end result (diploma, maybe?).

Also, I have loved seeing Evan's imagination develop. Seriously, I don't know where he gets this stuff, today he put all his little dinosaur and bug toys into a barn, added some toy phones as pillows, turned off the lights so they all could have a nap, and then woke them up for a snack of grasshoppers. I'd hate to interrupt creativity like that because I think he ought to be learning more about counting or reading. I read this blog the other day where the moms embrace "play-based learning," giving lots of opportunities for their kids to be imaginative and discover the world with minimum "Here is what I want you to learn" on the moms' part.

So. Thanks for writing about this article. With everything happening lately I'm glad to feel a little less stressed about parenting!

Melissa said...

LOVE! Thanks for the thoughts. I'm a big proponent of letting kids figure things to do on their own. I think we are too quick to givem a show when they are bored and ask for it. It's always funny to me how quickly they will find "something else to do" when I tell them its not time for tv. I liked these thoughts. Great post.

Rachel said...

These are great things to know. I feel I need as much help in the area of parenting as possible. So thanks!