Play Time Is For Everybody

“Sadly, in many cases, the assumption that children are incompetent, irresponsible, and in need of constant direction and supervision becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The children themselves become convinced of their incompetence and irresponsibility, and may act accordingly. The surest way to foster any trait in a person is to treat that person as if he or she already has it.” -Peter Gray

Dear Previous Generations,

Recently, I watched a TED Talk given by Peter Gray about The Biology of Education . He talked about the children’s generation and how we don’t get as much freedom as the previous generation. “Our world is a worse world for children” and I feel like the previous generations have allowed this to happen because they don’t trust us. Peter Gray’s words really got my attention and hit a home run. Back then, our parents were allowed so much time on their own to do whatever the heck they want. They played all day and weren’t restricted to so many rules. My teacher told us stories of his childhood. Like when he had a park in his city where everyone was allowed to build whatever they wanted or how he and his friends faffed around and threw snowballs at cars. I remember thinking Wow my parents would never let and that it would be in my dreams to ever be so reckless and not care. Look at us now. I feel like my generation has to deal with a whole new level of pressure. Standards are higher. Methods of learning have changed. Sometimes I feel like teachers and even our parents don’t understand. Maybe some of them do but not a whole lot. They say We understand, we’ve been through this before. But do they really? Yes, they have been through it before, but most likely not like this. They weren’t exposed to much more rigorous courses, standards, and competition as us. One of my teachers told our class to not stress about grades and to focus on only preparing for the AP test. If only! Goodness, I would love to do that. To my teacher, her goal is to get everyone to pass the AP test. But to us students, we gotta be able to pass the class AND the AP test. We care about grades because that’s what we were taught to do. Because we were taught that good grades equal good colleges. Because we were “subjected to tedious and painfully slow learning methods designed by those who run the school.” Imagine how much stress that is. So a simple task as just trusting us children and allowing us the freedom to play and learn should be easy.

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So when my teacher announced that we were participating in global play I was totes thrilled! The night before I was so glad that for the first time in a while I had nothing to worry about for this class. All I needed was to show up and play games. My play time experience was rad. At first I started out with just a container of play dough because I was shy and didn’t know who to play with. But then my friends invited me to play HeadBan. The game was awesome. We all went around asking questions to guess what we were. At some point even my teacher joined the game. It didn’t feel awkward and we didn’t have to  be on edge. He felt like a friend. We made jokes and time flew. Before I knew it, the period was over. My experience was full of enjoyment. I was lucky to experience it. I felt bad for some of my friends who didn’t get to participate in the day.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the whole school was able to participate in the play day at the same time? Imagine walking through every single classroom and everyone is not stressing over homework or exams. Teachers should definitely organize another day like this! Instead of having just one dedicated to play time. It should happen more often. Maybe like once a month? Having play time more often would probably reduce the amount of stress going around, especially during exam time. Learning shouldn’t be forced. It should happen naturally like second nature. We learn more, the more we experience. So trust in us. Believe in us. Give us the freedom that we need because that is how we will experience and be more educated.

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