Thursday, January 15, 2015

Olly Olly Oxen Free

Photo by: Megan Black
"You can discover more about a person from an hour of play then you can from a year of conversation." Plato

Come out, come out, wherever you are! February 4, 2015 marks the first Global School Play Day.  This initiative was inspired by the TEDx talk by Dr. Peter Gray where he documents the decline in play we have seen over the past 60 years and correlates that with the decline in creativity and the blossoming of mental disorders, especially anxiety, in children. I have a hunch that the lack of play time in our chickabiddy's lives also contributes to a fixed mindset.

My favorite quote from Dr. Gray's Talk comes at the end where he causally says, "We don't need more school, maybe we need better school, but we don't need more." I always get a queasy feeling when I hear dedicated teachers that have been enslaved by their curriculum bemoan their lack of time. Educators will always need more time as long as bureaucracies keep piling on the mandates.

However, schools aren't the only reason kids fall on the skids. (Sorry, I confess a weakness for rhyming.) Our entire culture of fear and the almighty need for safety has prevented the lessons that can only be learned through merry exploration. As Tolkien said, "It is dangerous business going out your door..." It is also vital.

Think about life as a grown human. Do you really have a lot of free time? As much as you want? My guess is the answer is no for 95% of us. Yet, most youngsters have far more loaded schedules than adults. It is crazy making. Literally.

Admittedly, recess duty, as the adult in charge, can be anxiety provoking. All the noise. The chaos. The opportunities for a kid to be physically or emotionally damaged. Yikes. However, every time, without fail, there is at least one occasion, where I witness that this unstructured time, is perhaps the best moment in a kid's day. And by best, I mean best learning, best feeling, significant, best.

photo by: Megan Black
So, why not dedicate an entire school day to play? Around the world! Yes, somebody might get hurt but many more somebodies might have their minds and hearts expanded. They may learn lessons about how to be in this world with others that would never have happened if we planned it or imposed our agenda. Perhaps, we are the ones who should learn from them. Rilke said, "We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For the holding on comes easily. We do not need to learn it."

So, please join the Global School Play Day on February 4, 2015. I triple dog dare you!

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