Is there a war against children? That thought went through my mind while reading the book “Living with a Wild God” by Barbara Ehrenreich.
Ehrenreich is a noted scientist and writer. The book is a fascinating autobiographical account of her attempt to come to grips with the universe. She writes well and provides a great deal to chew on and some moments of powerful connection. One occurred for me when I read these words:
Miss Sabatini, my third-grade teacher in Queens, made us sit with our hands crossed on our desks and our feet flat on the floor, all the time insisting that we “must learn self-control.” Although clearly if we had any real measure of control over ourselves and our lives we would be out in the playground, running and screaming. In this war against children we all enter on the losing side and carry our wounds along to the next generation.
I think anyone who can remember their school years can remember the anguish of sitting still when every nerve and muscle in our bodies wanted to do jumping jacks or even jump out the window. How challenging must it be for today’s kids who have had their recess cut down to as little as 15 minutes and who have to continue to control themselves in millions of backseats as they make their way to adult managed sports or play dates.
How did this happen? Do we suffer some form of amnesia after the age of 12 that prevents our remembering how desperately we wanted to play? How did we manage to turn our kids into office workers who slave away at a desk and don’t even get to go out and have a drink after work. No, they have to keep working…on music…on sports…on homework.
There is a crisis in play and we intend to explore it and provide some answers in this magazine and during the World Congress of Play in September. Do you think there is a crisis in play?