Each time I post something here about the enthusiasm and involvement the Woodland Park’s parent community like I did yesterday or last month, I’m showered with comments and emails from teachers impressed with how well our parent community understands and supports our play-based curriculum. Several times I’ve even been approached to help create or review methods or systems that seek to measure and report the success of play-based education as a way to convince parents and establishment-types that what we’re doing is indeed education.
I feel so blessed to work in a place where the inherent educational goodness of play is a given; a place where parents are right there with me as daily witnesses to their children’s learning. As a teacher, I’ve never felt the compulsion to “sell” our program or its benefits in any way other than to be the best teacher I can be.
Up until relatively recent times, the attitude at our school was not an anomaly. It was widely understood that play was the “work” of childhood. The Industrial Revolution, however, did a number on Western society’s thinking on educating children, changing it from its historic roots as a play-based activity into a factory-style one.
But the great educators have never forgotten that at its core, true education, education for the whole child, is play:
“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” –Heraclitis
“The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.” –Plato
“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” –Mister Rogers
“For truly it is to be noted, that children’s plays are not sports, and should be deemed as their most serious actions.” – Michel de Montaigne
“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” –Joseph Chilton Pearce
“The very existence of youth is due in part to the necessity for play; the animal does not play because he is young, he has a period of youth because he must play.” –Karl Groos
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain at artist once he grows up.” –Pablo Picasso
“Gloom and solemnity are entirely out of place in even the most rigorous study of an art originally intended to make glad the heart of man.” –Ezra Pound
“Teach by doing whenever you can, and only fall back upon words when doing it is out of the question.” –Jean Jacques Rousseau
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” –Plato
“The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task-garden; heaven is a playgound.” –C.K. Chesterton
“Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.” –Diane Ackerman
“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” –Kay Redfield Jamison
“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” –Brian Sutton-Smith
“It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.” –D.W. Winnicott
“Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant, sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside – children have their own agendas and timescales. As they find out more about their world and their place in it; they work hard not to let adults hurry them. We need to hear their voices.” –Cathy Nutbrown