The Idea Dude


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Who decided we should not mix play with work?

I'm not sure of the answer.

I sent my kids to Montessori school when they were too young for school. I didn't want daycare. I wanted them to flourish and grow at their own pace and into things that made special in their own way. Then school came, and they assimilated into the 'classroom system'.

Every day 20 children all dressed the same, facing the same way in each class. Education became industrialized. Of course, this was efficient. We graded them each year and promoted them to the same level. There is a curriculum. No-one, least of all parents, questions whether we are teaching them the right things and should all children learn the same stuff at the same pace.

Somehow modern education is about training, 12 levels, you get a diploma. Another 4 years in college, you're hopefully equipped for the real world. But it all seems so contrived, so regulated. Occasionally, a small percentage, break out of the system and become leaders, inventors, artists. But the rest, well, they sort of relegated to the monotony of boring jobs. Our goals become making the rent payment, paying of debt and looking forward to 2 weeks vacation after we have toiled for the other 50.

I called this the industrialization of mankind. I wonder what would have happened if we gave children the latitude to explore, discover, invent at their own pace. Without giving them rules that if you learn this 10 things, you proceed to the next level. Where would they be?

I'm pretty sure the inventors and innovators broke all the rules to discover what was seemingly illogical and impossible. We revere Galileo today and yet in his time, he was forced to recant his beliefs which ultimately proved to be correct. But at the time, it didn't jive with the what everyone was taught and expected to believe.

Somehow for most, we lost our sense of play by the time we reached our teens. Or rather we taught our children play and work were parallel paths and you couldn't do both at the same time.

Work is often characterized by doing the right things at the right time for a specific purpose. Over and over again. Play is about engagement, contribution, curiosity, exploration, discovery. Yet play is seen by most as time wasted, irrelevant, self-indulgent, unproductive... perhaps only because we made it so.

I wonder why?

Ray Ozzie's last post had an amazing quote..."And so, the first step for each of us is to imagine fearlessly; to dream."

Update: I found this wonderful presentation by Sir Kenneth Robinson an hour later after doing this blog post.


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