Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Certainty is a Sucker's Game

Both girls wanted to wear the blue princess gown and they both were certain that they had it first. When I arrived on the scene they were in a tug of war that threatened to tear the thin costume fabric to shreds, so I placed my hand on it, and said, "I hear you're fighting over this dress."

"I had it first!"

"No, I had it first!"

This kind of thing happens almost every day in every preschool. And most of the time, the adult steps in with solutions that involve taking turns, sharing, and setting timers. Instead, I said, "You both say you had it first."

"I did have it first!"

"You did not, I did!"

They were both certain, while I had no way of knowing. What I did know is this: "There is only one blue princess dress and two girls want to wear it."

We stood there for what felt like a long time. There were a few more rounds of trying to persuade one another, but much of the energy had gone out of it. Finally, one of them released her grip and said, "I know, I'll wear the pink dress today and then you can let me wear the blue one tomorrow!"

Her friend replied, "We can do it every day! Today, tomorrow, today, tomorrow!"

Certainty is a sucker's game, especially when one person's certainty is forced upon another.

"In order to seek truth," wrote French philosopher René Descartes, "it is necessary once in the course of our life to doubt, as far as possible, all things."

It's the wisdom of a man who has often found himself to be wrong. He then went on to assert a certainty, "I can doubt everything, except one thing, and that is the very fact I doubt. Simply put -- I think therefore I am."

But certainty is a sucker's game. Neuroscientist and author Antonio Damasio tells us that conscious thought arises from a conversation between our bodies and our nervous system spurred by our feelings. Our feelings give birth to consciousness, to thought, so Descartes is once more wrong. As Damasio puts it, "I feel therefore I am."

And some day, I expect, Damasio's assertion will be called into doubt. Indeed, not long ago, while in the midst of reading one of Damasio's books, I found myself, quite by accident, talking to a neuroscientist who worked at the University of Southern California, the same university as Damasio. I enthused about the book to which this scientist replied, "Damasio's an arrogant prick." He went on to detail what he saw as flaws in his theory. So perhaps Damasio's certainty will be turned to doubt sooner rather than later. 

"(T)he most beautiful thing in the world," wrote poet Robert Frost, "is conflicting interests when both are good."

Most of us don't think of conflict as particularly beautiful. I mean, armed conflict, war, is as ugly as it gets, but even our day-to-day conflicts with one another can turn ugly. For instance, we might call one another names, like "arrogant prick." But I don't think this is what Frost was referencing. In the sucker's game of certainty, ugliness is inevitable. But when we approach conflict in the spirit of doubt, with the knowledge that we are most certainly, at least partially, in the wrong, and that those with whom we are in conflict are most certainly, at least partially, in the right, we create the opportunity for the greatest beauty of all: agreement.

Certainty makes agreement impossible. All that's left is for one side to force the other to concede, which is the opposite of agreement.

Damasio says that consciousness begins with feelings (which he distinguishes from emotions, but not in a way that matters here), but it could also be argued that it begins the first time we open our eyes and encounter photons. Since our brains, at birth, know none of the stories about the world, that first encounter is the most direct, perfect, and certain view we will ever have of the truth. As Stanford neuroscientist Patrick House writes, "The first time your brain lied to you was the second time you opened your eyes." From birth, our brains are telling us stories about what we take in about the world through our senses. Our brains get better over time at telling convincing visual stories as they notice more and more events coinciding with our movements, our brain's guesses, and the outside world. "These stories, however, though they become more convincing and useful, do not necessarily become more true."

We are creatures who tell and are told by stories. When our stories come into conflict, we have two choices. We can play the sucker's game of certainty or tell the beautiful story of doubt.

Conflict is as common in preschool as it is anywhere humans come together. Too often, adults see our role as imposing certainty through our rules and solutions. Of course, in our role of keeping children safe, we are obliged to stop violence, but beyond that, most of the time, when I set my certainty aside, I find that the children are fully capable of working out a story that leads to agreement. And agreement is beautiful.


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Ready for a book that makes you want to underline and highlight? One that makes you draw arrows and write 'THIS!!!!!' in the margin? Then you are in for a treat." ~Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., author and Early Childhood Specialist, Ooey Gooey, Inc.

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Monday, October 30, 2023

Why We Visit The Trolls In Their Caves

We set out into a storm. The cold wind blew the rain sideways, under our hoods and into our faces. It was a storm that was blowing across the relatively flat, treeless island of Iceland on its way to mainland Europe where it would, several days later, be so severe that planes were grounded.

Yet here we were, twenty or so children from the Tjarnasel school in a town 50 km southwest of Reykjavik, and six adults bent into the wind. We were making our way toward the cave of Giganta, the troll who lives there along the harbor where these children and their families live as neighbors.

The Fremont Troll

I was excited to see this troll. My own school in Seattle also has a neighborhood troll, the Fremont Troll who lives under the Aurora Bridge, munching a Volkswagen Beetle. 

These children, despite the weather, were in no particular hurry. They wanted to stop and investigate an old well with a cast iron pump, for instance, gathering around to peer into its depths and tell stories of things that have fallen in. They paused to comment on local businesses or to notice aspects of a mural or even shake their heads over a bit of graffiti that they didn't understand, but knew didn't belong. We crossed at least a dozen streets as we made our way to Giganta's cave. The drivers waved and smiled to us as they waited for all of us to cross in front of them.

I've taken countless children on field trips like this, every day adventures into the world beyond our schoolyard gates, often in the rain. Like with this group of Icelandic children, we usually had some sort of destination in mind, but the real objective was simply being together, out in the world, seeing and being seen, taking detours, stopping at the local sites, be they trolls or wells or graffiti, noticing and being noticed. Drivers in Seattle weren't always as patient as these Icelandic drivers, but when we took the bus, our fellow passengers were always kind, offering their seats, and chatting with the children who were always a bit too loud, a bit too excited, for public transportation. When we left the bus, we always left a bit of our excitement behind in the smiles of the commuters.

This is what my friend John Yiannoudis calls "life derived learning" which is at the end of the day the basis for all learning. 

Giganta, the creation of Icelandic author and educator Herdís Egílsdóttir, was snoring when we arrived, so we were careful not to wake her. Every now and then she would fart. I didn't need to speak Icelandic to know that their teacher joked, each time, "That wasn't me!" The children, as they would anywhere in the world, shrieked with laughter, pointing to Giganta, shouting, "It was her! It was her!"

This is the most important learning of all because it is about community. Tjarnasel has strong connections with its community, and especially the families of the children. Their playground is a community project that was built and is maintained by the families.

Our children spend much of their lives walled into their designated places, while the rest of the world is walled out. A world without children is both unnatural and harmful to everyone. The central project of every civilization has ever existed is to care for the children. Without that, our species is not long for the world. When we keep our children separate from life itself, we rob both the children and the rest of society of what it means to be whole.

Lev Vygotsky wrote, "Through others we become ourselves." When we remove children from our day-to-day world we all become less ourselves.

And to become ourselves is why we must visit the trolls in their caves.


"This inspiring book is essential reading for every family choosing a preschool, every teacher working with young children, and every citizen who wonders how we can raise children who will make the world a better place." ~Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Friday, October 27, 2023

Always In The Process Of Becoming Ourselves

The specific collection of atoms that formed me on the day I was born has not existed for decades, yet I've remained me for 62 years and, if history is any guide, I expect to be me until the day I die. 

Even through that afternoon some years ago when I experienced a brief spell of amnesia, brought on by a migraine as far as I can tell, I remained me. I still knew my name, I knew my wife and daughter, my mother, father, brother and sister, but for the life of me, I couldn't identify anyone else. It came upon me as I was looking at my Facebook page. In a flash all those friends became strangers. I was certain that I had, through some fluke, been logged into someone else's page. Still, throughout that experience, there was a continuity that let me know that I was still me, even though a piece of me had been temporarily erased.

It was unsettling nevertheless. There is comfort in knowing the full story of who we are, although I reckon that most of us, at one time or another, have fantasized about turning the page and finding ourselves in an entirely different story. Some of us even act upon it, trying out everything from new addresses to new life partners. We might quit our jobs. We talk about getting a "fresh start," as if wishing to return to the womb in order to begin again with "Once upon a time . . ." 

Sometimes you read about a person, often a criminal on the run, who has gone so far as to assume an entirely new identity. In the end, we learn about them because they've been discovered, but I wonder about the ones who get away with it. Even if they can eventually assume the trappings of a new me, the old me is still there in the story of what came before.

Young children are just beginning to experience themselves as a lifelong story, but we err if we assume that their's is not as rich, deep, and meaningful as our own. These are the foundational chapters being written, the stories they will spend the rest of their lives embracing or rejecting. The temptation is, out of our love for them, to try to steer their stories toward the sunshine and butterflies, and we no doubt should when given the chance. We turn off the scary movies. We shield them from the news. We turn their attentions toward the bright side and try to wrap their anxious visits to the pediatrician in the garments of heroism.

Casey Curran

We should do all of that, of course, but no matter what we do, our children, like all of us, will at times grow dissatisfied with who they are and wish, at least temporarily, to change it. We see it in their dramatic play where they literally try on transformative costumes. We see it as they assume their roles in housekeeping games. We see it when they imitate others. In many ways, they have the advantage over us in that they are children and no one expects them to remain children forever. We know from a very young age that we will grow up to be something else, yet the stories of adult transformation are not nearly so clearly laid out. We tend toward stagnation, especially once when we've achieved one of our "goals," like owning a home or getting married or landing the perfect job. We forget that we are always in the midst of our story.

We take our vacations. We drink too much. We have affairs. We lose ourselves in popular entertainment or books or music, but these "escapes" are more in the spirit of placing a bookmark in our story, only to return to where we've left off. No, what I think I've learned from spending so much time with young children is that I want my own story to be one that is so engaging that I can't put it down. And that means it can't all be sunshine and butterflies. Or rather, sometimes the butterflies must be in my stomach. Sometimes I must head out into a storm. Sometimes I must step off into the unknown. These are the moments of transformation without which that thing that I call "me" cannot move beyond that original collection of atoms.

When we consider a child, we strive to see them for who they are, but we cannot help but consider who they are becoming, because growing and changing is so clearly in the nature of childhood. Too often, I think, we forget that this is also in the nature of life. We are always in the process of becoming ourselves.


"This inspiring book is essential reading for every family choosing a preschool, every teacher working with young children, and every citizen who wonders how we can raise children who will make the world a better place." ~Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Thursday, October 26, 2023

Becoming The Courageous Parent Every Child Needs

One of the striking things about Icelandic society (from where I've just returned after a week's participation with International Play Iceland) is that on any given day, one sees children who appear to be under 10 years old out an about in the city without adult supervision: walking to and from school, shopping, hanging out with friends. You likewise find relatively young people in positions of responsibility. I spoke with a 21 year old who manages a chain of toy stores, an 18 year old restaurant manager, and generally interacted with more seemingly self-sufficient teenagers in the course of my day-to-day life there than I have in the past year at home.

From the day our children are born, they are destined to become independent from us. Not only do we know this is inevitable, but according to a recent University of Michigan survey 74 percent of parents with children between 5-8 report they "make a point" to have their children do things for themselves, while nearly 85 percent of parents with 9-11 year olds agree that their children benefit from unsupervised free time.

And they're not wrong. Research consistently shows that experience with real independence fosters self-confidence, resilience, problem-solving, and good mental health. Most of us also tend to agree with the idea of allowing our children more and more independence, gradually, with the expectation that by the time they're 18 or 21 or whatever that they will be fully capable of thriving on their own. 

My mother used to say, "You want them to be independent, then you're terrified when they are." She isn't alone. While most parents in the survey voice opinions in favor childhood independence, far fewer, the survey finds, follow through with actually permitting it.

"Most parents endorse the idea that children benefit from free time without parent supervision, and say they allow their child to do things themselves. But parents' descriptions of what their child actually does independently suggests a sizable gap between parent attitudes and actions. Less than half of parents said their child 5-8 years old regularly engages in independent activities under their parent's direction, such as answering questions at a doctor's appointment, placing an order at a restaurant or other places of business, or fixing their own snack. This suggests some parents may be missing opportunities to guide their children in these "building block" tasks of autonomy. This pattern continues for older children (9-11 years old), where relatively few parents reported that their child stays home for a short period or spends time with friends without adult direction . . . This (poll) suggest parents may be unintentionally restricting their child's path to independence."

The survey identifies parental fear as the primary cause of this disconnect. 

There are undoubtedly neighborhoods in the US in which you wouldn't want your child walking the streets unsupervised, and Iceland has a notoriously low crime rate, but the truth is that most of us live in places that are every bit as safe as downtown Reykjavik. But even if we aren't about to start sending our four-year-olds into the streets willy-nilly, this fear seems to seep into places where it is entirely unwarranted. Awhile back, I spoke with an admissions representative from a major university. She told me that over the past couple decades, they have had to introduce basic life skills courses because too many of their incoming freshmen didn't know how to do such basic things as use a can opener, operate a washing machine, or prepare a basic meal for themselves. Not to mention how crippling it can be to not have experience interacting independently with adults. What was most striking about these independent Icelandic teenagers was simply the eye-contact, the confidence with which they interacted with me, which was unlike the socially awkward teens I encounter elsewhere.

This poll likewise found that not only are American parents afraid for their children's safety, but are equally afraid that they will be judged if they do allow their young children independence, and are especially concerned about being criticized should something happen to them while exercising that independence. This is reinforced by the fact that some municipalities enforce criminal penalties against parents who leave their children without "adequate supervision," a vague criteria at best.

All of this harms our children, contributing, no doubt, to the surge in mental health challenges like anxiety and depression we've seen in recent decades, as well as the lack of self-confidence, resilience, and the ability to solve problems that inevitably go with this loss of childhood independence.

According to Lenore Skenazy, founder of the Free Range Kids movement and director of Let Grow, an organization committed to making it "easy, normal and legal to give kids back some independence," the way forward is baby steps. Parents can start, for instance, by showing their children how to do basic things for themselves, like operating a can opener or washing machine or preparing their own snack, then stepping back as they struggle, perhaps even leaving the room. This might mean return to the occasional mess, maybe even a minor injury, but this is all part of learning to be independent. 

Over time, as parents practice stepping back, the miracle is their children are revealed to be not only competent and conscientious, but also increasingly courageous about tackling even more independence. And as Lenore points out, as the children grow in courage, so too grow their parents.


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Few people are better qualified to support people working in the field of early childhood education than Teacher Tom. This is a book you will want to keep close to your soul." ~Daniel Hodgins, author of Boys: Changing the Classroom, Not the Child, and Get Over It! Relearning Guidance Practices

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Trust, Respect, Community, And Play

Over the past decade, I've had the opportunity to visit hundreds of outstanding preschools in places as far-flung as Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Europe, Asia, and North America. I rate these schools as outstanding because they proudly place play at center of the children's lives. What makes these schools beautiful, however, is that there is nothing standard about them. Each of them is as unique and individual as the children, families, and communities they serve.

No where is this more evident than the island nation of Iceland. With a mostly native Icelandic (81%) and Northern European (10%) population of around 370,000, half of whom live in or near the capitol Reykjavik, one might anticipate a kind of uniformity, a standardized "Icelandic way." There is a national curriculum, one that is currently being revised, I'm told, to make their schools even more play-based, but instead of dictating to educators, it frees them to be the well-paid, well-educated, creative professionals they are. This is why one school may emphasize the Regio Emilia approach, while the next takes on the look and feel of a forest school, while in the very next neighborhood you might find influences of Waldorf or Montessori or the cooperative model. The result of allowing preschool communities the freedom to cobble together their own, unique approach is that you see the personalities of the children, community, and educators woven into the culture of each school, making it something new and special under the sun.

At bottom, perhaps the "Icelandic way" is that these educators have what so many of us around the world lack in our profession: autonomy. These educators are trusted. They are respected. And the result are preschools that, taken as a whole, are among the best in the world.

More than anything else, this is what we lack in the US. Ours is among the lowest paid and least respected professions out there, and our curricula tend to reflect that in the way they seek to standardize and dictate every moment of an educator's day. We distrust preschool educators so much that we inflict developmentally inappropriate testing, worksheets, formal literacy instruction, and even grading on these very young children, ranking them from birth according to both one another and randomly derived standards that have absolutely no connection to the actual lives the children live. Even if the preschoolers themselves aren't being tested, everyone knows that they will face it in kindergarten. No wonder the past couple decades have seen a sharp increase in the numbers of preschoolers diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: standardization is the enemy of education. Standardization is the bland manifestation of distrust and disrespect. On the flip side, play within the context of community is the way humans have evolved to learn. It's the approach to learning that puts self-motivation and curiosity at the fore. This is what Icelandic preschools seem to understand. And the way they get there is to trust and respect children and those who have made it their profession. 

If there is anything standard about Icelandic schools, it's that their system is based upon trust, respect, community, and play.


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Ready for a book that makes you want to underline and highlight? One that makes you draw arrows and write 'THIS!!!!!' in the margin? Then you are in for a treat." ~Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., author and Early Childhood Specialist, Ooey Gooey, Inc.

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Tuesday, October 24, 2023

"Do You Talk To Your Dog?"

Stella in conversation with grass people

A man on the street asked me, "Do you talk to your dog?" 

"All the time," I answered truthfully. "She talks to me, too. And we both try listen as well."

He looked satisfied, "That's good. Keep it that way."

At the next corner, our dog Stella asked if we should cross to the shady side of the street by pointing her entire body in that direction. The day was turning warmer, so I said, "Good idea," the words I use with her to indicate agreement, but first I said, "Wait," which is how I tell her we need to first pause for traffic. Several cars drove past before I said, "Okay," and we crossed.

She told me, by a slight pull on the leash, that she thought we ought to continue straight, but it was time to start heading toward home, so I let her know that I'd rather go another direction, saying, "This way," and she hopped a little as she changed directions.

This is how most of our conversations go, the two of us making suggestions to one another. I suppose that ultimately I have the power because I'm bigger and stronger, but the older I grow, the more uncomfortable I become in any relationship in which power is out of balance. I don't like to be told what to do and I don't like to tell others what to do, even if that person is a dog.

Sometimes I'm distracted and forget to listen. That's when Stella "acts out" by lurching this way and that or by lagging behind, bracing herself against me. Sometimes, if I'm particularly inattentive, she'll stand on her hind legs and punch me in the hip with her forepaws. There was a time when these behaviors irritated me, and they still sometimes spark that, but I've learned that what she is telling me is that I've lost the thread. She is saying, "What can possibly be more important that what we are doing together, right here, right now?"

In Leo Tolstoy's short story "The Three Questions," the protagonist finds the most important time is right now, the most important person is the one you are with, and the most important thing to do is to help that person. Perhaps something was lost in the translation from Russian, but Stella expands this lesson: the most important thing to do is to help, but first you must really listen.

You'll notice that I'm referring to Stella as a "person." It's a tip I first picked up from a Tlingit storyteller, who spoke of "orca whale people" and "bear people." In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer writes that in her traditions plants are people as well -- "maple people," "sweetgrass people," "wild leek people." If you haven't before, try it out and you'll find your relationship to everything shifts. When we're all people we suddenly have no choice but to talk and listen.

Stella suggesting we go "that way."

The world of adult human people that we've created is one of hierarchy. The stories we tell are of owners who have lost control of their pets; of employers who have lost the respect of the employed; of parents who are wrapped around the little fingers of their children. If you listen to our public dialog, it is comprised mostly of conversation about power and hierarchy. This is what I hear when I listen only to the adult human people, but the moment I tune in to the other peoples of this planet, I am overwhelmed by talk of cooperation, equality, reciprocity, and agreement. And this also goes especially for children people. More often than not, at bottom, their "challenging behaviors" tell us that they care nothing about our hierarchies and they resent our exercise of power over them. Indeed, they are telling us that it is an evil that seeks domination and it starts by destroying cooperation, equality, reciprocity, and agreement, trampling the grass from which the basket of life is woven. 

It seems that all the peoples of the earth, with the exception of the adult human people, are telling us to listen until we understand, help in the way that we can, and then, lastly, take only what we need. 

I'm sure by this point, I've lost many readers. They have scoffed at my "anthropomorphism" and clicked away. They have shaken their heads at my naiveté and dismissed it as "wouldn't it be lovely." They have frowned at my oversimplification, and left before these final paragraphs to return to their news sites where people argue over their precious hierarchy. 

In our bodies, the cells that will not listen are called cancer, and we seek to eradicate them or they will kills us. In the body of the planet, we are the cells that will not listen, yet instead of eradicating us, the other people's of the world, including our own children, have not lost hope and are still begging us to simply engage with them in a dialog between equals. 


If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here! 
"Ready for a book that makes you want to underline and highlight? One that makes you draw arrows and write 'THIS!!!!!' in the margin? Then you are in for a treat." ~Lisa Murphy, M.Ed., author and Early Childhood Specialist, Ooey Gooey, Inc.

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
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Monday, October 23, 2023

There Is Nothing More Necessary Than Play

Geysir, sometimes known as the Great Geysir, is a geyser in southwest Iceland. It was the first one known to Europeans and, as such, is the namesake of all the subsequent geysers discovered around the globe. Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Geysir where I joined a flock of tourists standing around a wet, steamy hole in the ground, waiting, waiting, waiting, until suddenly a giant dome of water, a bubble several meters across, would form before explosively bursting to send a spectacular tower of boiling water into the sky. 

In a posts last week I mentioned the weeklong International Play Iceland experience. I attended with some 30 other likeminded play-based early childhood educators. This group is about more than just professional development for teachers being presented in an exotic location. It is, I think, I hope, part of an international grassroots movement to elevate our understanding of the essential vitalness of play. This is important stuff, because if everyone understood play, the world would be transformed.

I first learned about Play Iceland through, Hulda Hreiðarsdóttir, the proprietor of Fafu Toys, a company that evolved into Fafunia, "a place or space where parents and practitioners can support learning and skill building through play." Yes, Hulda sold toys and furniture and other things, but what she was always focused on was this grassroots movement. When I first committed myself to attend this event some nine years ago, one of my highest motivations was to meet this woman, whose charm, spirit, and dedication came through even online. Sadly, I never had the chance: she died suddenly, in her sleep, in May 2015 at the age of 32. Fittingly, one of her favorite expressions was "Life is random." Indeed.

Her friends and family, in her honor, carried on and now I count myself among them, even if I never actually met her in life. The mission of Play Iceland is to take the playful magic of this place and these people and carry it out into the world.

As play-based educators, it can often feel as if we are all alone, outliers, outside-the-mainstream preschool teachers, on the fringes, thriving in the pockets of air that are rising to the surface as the Titanic of corporate-sponsored, factory-inspired education begins to sink. But when we join our bubbles together, in our neighborhoods, our cities, our provinces, our nations, and across the world; if we can bring our message to the families who already love and trust us, even if it's just one and two at a time; if we can grow this grassroots movement in solidarity with one another, we can become a bubble that puts Geysir to shame, and no one, no matter how much money or power they have, can stand in our way. No force on earth can stand before teachers, parents, and children united through play.

There is simply nothing more universal, more necessary, more unifying, than play.

Over the years, as we've chatted around our Play Iceland dinner tables and gathered around the Great Geyser in anticipation, we find ourselves asking, "Why do the powers that be seem so afraid of children playing?" 

And honestly, when we look around us, at every step, those with authority seem hellbent upon squashing play through fear-mongering . . . 

Be it with fear-mongering about the pedophile or drug dealer lurking around every corner . . .

. . . or fear-mongering that we are on the verge of economic collapse because our schools aren't producing the test scores we need to beat the Chinese . . .

. . . or fear-mongering about the boogyman of "learning loss" . . . 

. . . or fear-monger about how children will fall behind if they don't have the latest educational toy or isn't reading by the time they are four . . . 

. . . or fear-mongering about scrapes, bruises and broken bones . . . 

. . . . or fear-mongering generally about any form of unstructured time, even going so far as to limit recess, in the name of more desk time, to a mere 15 minutes per day. 

They apparently want our children corralled and controlled and programmed from the moment they are born, doing pretty much anything but playing freely, according to their own desires, curiosity, instincts and passions, as we are born to do.

They fear children playing because in their hearts they know that if humans are allowed to freely engage with the world, outdoors, unsupervised, with few toys, lots of time, and in the company of other children, they will overturn the world order in a single generation. They fear that their precariously balanced applecart of command and control will be toppled, that their profits will plummet, that their power will crumble, and that they won't have anyone left to wield the guns and cudgels they need to keep us all in line. They fear that if children are allowed to play, they will grow up to both expect freedom and have the critical thinking and creative abilities to make it happen.

We see evidence of this grassroots movement springing up everywhere we look. You may have to look carefully, but our tiny bubbles are all around us, from Iceland to China, from Australia to Greece, and from the US to England. We are rising to the surface, forming together into larger and larger bubbles, until like the Great Geysir we will be so big they won't be able to ignore us.

In the coming days, as I reflect upon my trip, the things I learned, and the people I met there. I hope to inspire you in your little bubble and, in the spirit of International Play Iceland. And I expect to see you in the bigger one we form together.


"This inspiring book is essential reading for every family choosing a preschool, every teacher working with young children, and every citizen who wonders how we can raise children who will make the world a better place." ~Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids

If you liked reading this post, you might also enjoy one of my books. To find out more, Click here!

I put a lot of time and effort into this blog. If you'd like to support me please consider a small contribution to the cause. Thank you!
Bookmark and Share