“Play is the work of children”….. J. Piaget


It makes such sense and yet we seem to have forgotten its logical intrinsic value. In our test-driven educational world of today being on task and on time in many schools leaves little time for play. Recess has shrunk or disappeared from most of our schools. Lunch periods have been shortened and days and years have been lengthened in an apparent quest to make our students into perfect little technicians, automatons who can react specifically in isolation to a set of pre- set stimuli in a consistent and certain way. Little room is left for the unexpected or the un-planned in our modern classrooms. It is a strangely disastrous way to prepare our children for a future where it appears that the only constant will be continual change. It is not that I believe that drill and practice are bad or being on task and on time is necessarily a problem but that when we memorize our lines and our positions in life it is very difficult to change those positions when we must. By play I do not mean little league, dance, or any other adult controlled activity it must be kid controlled, kid directed, and kid policed for real learning about life to take place.
Is it possible that our current infatuation with the concept that spending more time on something will make it better is so logical and easily observable and testable that just as logic and observation has in the past it might make people believe that the Earth is flat?

I offer some quotes about children and how their time is spent. Some are fr0m psychologists, some teachers and others. Think of our schools today and how these may apply to what we are currently doing

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury it is a necessity.”….. Jamison

“Happiness is a stock that doubles in a year.”……. Ira Cobleigh

In our play we reveal what kind of people we are…. Ovid

“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.”…. Maslow

“Whoever wants to understand much, must play much,” … Benn

“Happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning, truth and beauty can’t.”….. Huxley

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.”…. Fred Rogers

“A child loves his play, not because it’s easy but because it’s hard.”…. Spock (Benjamin not Commander)

“Necessity may be the “Mother of Invention,”but play is certainly the father.”…. Van Oech

“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.”….. Sutton-Smith

“Play is training for the unexpected.”…. Bekof

“I believe that boys who take part in rough hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school.” T Roosevelt

“…. civilized life, law and order, commerce and profit….All are rooted in the primeval soil of play.” …. Huizing

“Pausing to listen to an airplane in the sky, stooping to watch a ladybug on a plant sitting on a rock to watch the waves crash over the quayside – children have their own agendas and time scales. As they find out more about their world and their place in it; they work hard not to let adults hurry them. We need to hear their voices.” … Nutbrown

“Contrast a child at age 10 with an I-Pad to a child at 10 with an imagination and decide which has the bigger world to conquer?”

Please note that I am not saying that school has to be fun, but it must include time for minds to grow connections and I believe that the best connections are generated not when you are memorizing the number fact of 5+9 = 14 but instead playing marbles for “Keepsies” as opposed to “funsies” on the playground and realizing that I used to have 9 marbles I won 5 more and now I have 14.

Creating a sense of team, togetherness and accomplishment may best be done through play and creative imagination. There is a personal glow that accrues to all involved in imagining, and by overcoming shared difficulties without adult help.
For me at least this path seems to be the shortest road to eventual individual and shared success for all of our children.

Time seems so important now but it is an undependable chimera as each tic of the clock is its only meaningful one. That which has past cannot be regained and that which has not yet happened cannot be proclaimed. We measure it but can’t understand it, so for our children’s sake and future let’s let them spend some of their time enjoying it.

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About safrisri

I have been a teacher since 1971 and have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. My writings will reflect on my past mistakes and successes and what my students have taught me about education.
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8 Responses to “Play is the work of children”….. J. Piaget

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is so awesome, i wish I could mount it on a billboard. I work with early care teachers and even in our world we are loosing the fight for the importance of play

  2. I’m not sure why but this website is loading incredibly slow for me.
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  3. Pingback: Imagine that! | Norah Colvin

  4. Norah says:

    Fabulous! I’m sorry I’m so late joining in!

  5. Kel says:

    Hi. Would you happen to have a reference for Piaget’s quote “Play is the work of children?” I would like to use it in an essay.
    Thanks.

    • safrisri says:

      I wish I could. The phrase is generally attributed to Piaget in most of the literature but may have originated with Friedrich Froebel. Maria Montessori is also often referred to as the originator but her work seems to go back to Froebel and Piaget for its base. I do not have a specific source unfortunately sorry I cant help you out.

  6. Jen says:

    This is the best one yet!

  7. Kiersten Marek says:

    Reblogged this on Kmareka.com and commented:
    A good post reminding us about the importance of play….

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