Every day is play day

Did you know that today is Global School Play Day? It’s a good idea, I suppose. I mean, I understand why it was created. But it still strikes me as absurd.

Register now to play! Take pictures so the world can see kids playing! Don’t forget the hashtag! There’s even an official #GSPD song with a rap and a catchy hook: ‘Every day, find a way, to let our kids play-ay-ay-ay…’

I don’t mean to make fun. I understand that many educators are clueless about the benefits of free play, and the value of non-intervention in their students’ learning. I completely agree that kids need more time to play. My reaction has to do with the fact that such an effort is needed, not the effort itself. And that’s sad.

‘Can adults play, too?’, the #GSPD website asks. ‘Of course!’ is the answer that jumped into my head. Adults should definitely play! But, oh wait, that’s not what they meant. Be careful, #GSPD urges teachers: ‘Resist the temptation to organize, discipline, and teach.’ Of course they would need to say that. And that’s also sad.

How do we get the message across that letting children lead in their learning, their play, and their lives is the best way to grow creative, smart, independent, happy adults? When I look at my generation, I realize that kids who were allowed plenty of free play won’t necessarily grow up and offer the same opportunity to their kids. No, the dearth of play in our children’s lives has become deeply embedded in our culture, the result of complex factors including economics, employment, the decline of neighborhoods, and our obsession with competition.

I’m glad people like Peter Gray care, and are doing the research and giving TEDx talks on a topic that should be obvious to all of us. If people won’t listen to their common sense, maybe they’ll listen to science and experts.

Meanwhile, we’ll go about our play days as usual. My husband will play his clarinet. I’ll play with my blog, read my book, and maybe try a new recipe. Teenage daughters will play with their favorite toys, like jazz, or psychology, or Shakespeare. While the experts work to spread the message, we’ll continue to live it.

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