Deep-ish Thoughts on Play

0158_120808-FJC_x_xHi Readers! Modern-day life keeps replacing playing time with “teaching time,” as if the two are at odds. But in the book, “The Ordeal of Change,” philosopher Eric Hoffer notes:

“Men never philosophize or tinker more freely than when they know that their speculation or tinkering leads to no weighty results. We are more ready to try the untried when what we do is inconsequential. Hence the remarkable fact that many inventions had their birth as toys. In the Occident the first machines were mechanical toys, and such crucial instruments as the telescope and microscope were first conceived as playthings. Almost all civilizations display a singular ingenuity in toy making…

On the whole it seems to be true that the creative periods in history were buoyant and even frivolous. One thinks of the lightheartedness of Perclean Athens, the Renaissance, the Elizabethan Age, and the age of the Enlightenment. Mr. Nehru tells us that in India ‘during every period when her civilization bloomed, we find an intense joy in life and nature and a
pleasure in the art of living….’ ”

Hi. Lenore here again: It’s cool to think about play leading to “real” results, including joy and telescopes.  So, as I suggest in my book, if you think your kids might be slightly over-scheduled, consider letting them drop an activity. And then, when the days grow warm and long and delicious, consider letting them go to camp, rather than summer school. Be prepared for lightheartedness (and maybe even breakthroughs) all around.

Posted on April 25, 2013

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