Kristin Harkness (email@example.com)
Sun, 1 Apr 2001 10:11:12 -0400
>My point is that I am asking if anyone has seen evidence that a child, with
>no suggestions from a parent or other authority figure, actually stops
>creative playing and hits an academic subject?
I also had a strong reaction to this comment. Like Mike, I feel
uncomfortable sharing other people's stories here, so I will share my own.
As a grade schooler I loved to read. Not the required books, particularly
still have an aversion to Old Yeller, for instance) but books which I chose.
I read all of the Oz books, and many fiction/fantasy books. One day in the
library I found 'Good Queen Bess', a book about Elizabeth I of Britain. I
loved it. I read every other book the library had on her. I worked my way
backwards in time, Bloody Mary, Henry VIII, the war of the roses, the
Plantagenets... and forwards, the Stuarts, Cromwell, Bonnie Prince Charlie..
I moved into Europe a bit, reading about France, Spain and Russia. As a
by-product I learned about nationalism; about religious war; about superior
technology, and its impact on international relations; about the beginnings
of the Industrial Revolution.
Clearly I achieved what some would call an academic study of a period of
English (and some European) history. At what point, however, did this cease
to be creative playing? I chose every book I read. I never went to any
adult for guidance or approval. In fact, I read at times when adults felt
that I should be doing other things (like chores, or sleeping). I read,
sometimes, when my friends would have preferred that I play with them. In
fact, in an odd way, since my activities were so clearly voluntary, I
believe that made them somehow less valuable in adult eyes than my homework.
Even they knew that I was playing!
John, I am not saying that every child, left to her/his own devices will
become a history scholar. My interest in history carried into college, and
I did major in it. However, college is where I found computers, which I
like even more, and the rest, as they say, is history. Today I am a
software engineer who occasionally reads something historical for fun.
What I am challenging is the idea that creative playing and academic
subjects are necessarily separate. I remember much of that history reading
today. 8th grade earth science is long gone. Which one was the more
productive activity? Which was a better use of my time? On which topic am
I better 'educated'?
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