DSM: RE: RE: Re: Play's the thing

From: Alan or Laura Gabelsberg (argable@swbell.net)
Date: Sun Jul 15 2001 - 09:28:27 EDT


After recently reading Alice Miller's For Your Own Good, I suggest that the
adult aversion to play is another aspect of the cycle of abuse that can be
passed from one generation to the next. Maybe it is a denial of true human
nature and (sort of) a form of abuse that adults pass on to their offspring
because they themselves were denied the right to play, or were not given
sufficient amount of play time. However, many parents in society I think
would say the opposite - that the Sudbury model's provision of ample play at
school is abusive/neglectful in terms of not providing the "right
environment" or whatever. I'm not sure where the idea of a "right/wrong
environment comes from," another moral idea I suppose. I think parents
generally don't trust themselves enough and rely too much on the advice of
experts, scientists, psychologists, and the latest research, and so forth.

LauraGabelsberg
The (fledgling but growing) Houston Sudbury Group

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
[mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org]On Behalf Of Malc Dow
Sent: Sunday, July 15, 2001 5:34 AM
To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
Subject: DSM: RE: Re: Play's the thing

On the subject of Play, there follows pages 71 and 72 from the chapter
`Play'; The Free Child, AS Neill (reproduced here under 'fair use').
It was first published in 1953, has anything changed?

Malc Dow

his

71
True, small children will play gangster games with shooting or sword
play,israg a weak lecturer. Noise and play go together, and it is best when
they go
together at the age of seven to fourteen. One could, with some truth, claim
that the evils of civilisation are due to the fact that no child has ever
had enough play, or, to put it differently, every child has been hothoused
into an adult, long before he has reached adulthood. Our school subjects are
adult affairs, in the main foreign to the interest of the child. Last week
in Copenhagen I met a girl of fourteen who had spent three years in
Summerhill, speaking perfect English. "I suppose you are at the top of your
class in English," I said. She grimaced ruefully. "No, I'm at the bottom
because I don't know English grammar," she said. I think that is about the
best commentary on what adults consider education.
Fear is at the root of adult antagonism to play. Hundreds of times I have
heard the anxious query: "But if my boy plays all day how will he ever learn
anything, how will he ever pass exams ?" Very few will accept my answer.
72
If your child plays all he wants to play he will be able to pass
Matriculation after two years' intensive study, instead of the usual five,
six, seven years of learning in a school that discounts play as a factor in
life. But I always have to add: That is if he ever wants to pass Matric; he
may become a ballet dancer or a radio engineer; she may want to be a dress
designer or a children's nurse. Luckily we in this country are not so
fanatical about exams as all Continental countries, where, apparently one
cannot sweep the streets without passing an exam. Yes, fear of the child's
future deprives children of their right to play. There is more in it than
that; there is a vague moral idea behind the disapproval of play, a
suggestion that being a child is not so good, a suggestion voiced in the
phrases applied to young adults . . . "Cry Baby !" "Don't be a Baby." To the
adult child play is a waste of time. It took me a long time to get over my
impatience with children because they never want to work in a garden. So far
we do not as a rule have an economic excuse for encouraging children to work
instead of to play: our incentive therefore must be moral. There are people
who say: "I don't see why kids should have so much play and leisure. When I
was their age . ..." They are less neurotic than those who are envious of
youth without being aware of it.

 (ps. If anyone wants the rest of the book in digital format, mail me
privately)

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