Children's day essays - essays on citizenship









children's day essays

children's day essaysChildren's day essays -The Sudbury Valley School and a hunter-gatherer band are very different from one another in many ways, but they are similar in providing what I see as the essential conditions for optimising children’s natural abilities to educate themselves.What US Education Secretary Duncan apparently doesn’t realise, or acknowledge, is that educational leaders in those countries are now increasingly judging their educational system to be a failure.In a book called (1898), Groos argued that play came about by natural selection as a means to ensure that animals would practise the skills they need in order to survive and reproduce.To a considerable degree, you can predict how an animal will play by knowing what skills it must develop in order to survive and reproduce.But here’s an alternative view, which should be obvious but apparently is not: playing is learning.Children can’t learn these social skills and values in school, because school is an authoritarian, not a democratic setting.For more than 50 years now, we in the United States have been gradually reducing children’s opportunities to play, and the same is true in many other countries.Narcissism refers to inflated self-regard, coupled with a lack of concern for others and an inability to connect emotionally with others.In his book (2007), Howard Chudacoff refers to the first half of the 20th century as the ‘golden age’ of children’s free play.You can’t teach creativity; all you can do is let it blossom, and it blossoms in play According to Kim’s research, all aspects of creativity have declined, but the biggest decline is in the measure called ‘creative elaboration’, which assesses the ability to take a particular idea and expand on it in an interesting and novel way.For example, Karen Endicott, who studied the Batek hunter-gatherers of Malaysia, reported: ‘Children were free to play nearly all the time; no one expected children to do serious work until they were in their late teens.’This is very much in line with Groos’s theory about play as practice.They learn to take responsibility for themselves and their community, and they learn that life is fun, even (maybe especially) when it involves doing things that are difficult.Finally, in both settings, children are immersed in a stable, moral community, so they acquire the values of the community and a sense of responsibility for others, not just for themselves.We have already taken too much of that away; we must not take away any more.resident Obama and his Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, along with other campaigners for more conventional schooling and more tests, want children to be better prepared for today’s and tomorrow’s world. Do we need more people who are good at memorising answers to questions and feeding them back?Her thesis — consistent with her organisation’s purpose and the urgings of President Barack Obama and the Education Secretary Arne Duncan — was that children need more time in school than currently required, to prepare them for today’s and tomorrow’s competitive world. The host introduced the debate with the words: ‘Do students need more time to learn, or do students need more time to play? That dichotomy seems natural to people such as my radio host, my debate opponent, my President, my Education Secretary — and maybe you.’ They did all this, and more, not because any adult required or even encouraged them to, but because they wanted to.Do we need more people who are good at memorising answers to questions and feeding them back?Prior to the development of agriculture, a mere 10,000 years ago or so, we were all hunter-gatherers.Therefore, he argued, natural selection in humans favoured a strong drive for children to observe the activities of their elders and incorporate those activities into their play.Unfortunately, as we move increasingly toward standardised curricula, and as we occupy ever more of our children’s time with schoolwork, our educational results indeed are becoming more like those of the Asian countries.children's day essaysBecause students spend nearly all their time studying, they have little opportunity to be creative, take initiative, or develop physical and social skills: in short, they have little opportunity to play.What I learnt in my hunter-gatherer education has been far more valuable to my adult life than what I learnt in school, and I think others in my age group would say the same if they took time to think about it.Stated differently, this means that more than 85 per cent of children in 2008 scored lower on this measure than did the average child in 1984.When they play, these students learn to read, calculate, and use computers with the same playful passion with which hunter-gatherer kids learn to hunt and gather.I have read all the writings I could find on hunter-gatherer childhoods, and a number of years ago I conducted a small survey of 10 anthropologists who, among them, had lived in seven different hunter-gatherer cultures on three different continents. Adults believe that children learn by observing, exploring, and playing, and so they afford them unlimited time to do that.This so-called ‘practice theory of play’ is well-accepted today by researchers.But then, beginning around 1960 or a little before, adults began chipping away at that freedom by increasing the time that children had to spend at schoolwork and, even more significantly, by reducing children’s freedom to play on their own, even when they were out of school and not doing homework.The boys played endlessly at tracking and hunting, and both boys and girls played at finding and digging up edible roots.Human children, unlike the young of other species, must learn different skills depending on the culture in which they are developing.recently took part in a radio debate with a woman representing an organisation called the National Center on Time and Learning, which campaigns for a longer school day and school year for schoolchildren in the US (a recording of the debate can be found here).It’s not just that we’re seeing disorders that we overlooked before.Some groups of people managed to survive as hunter-gatherers into recent times and have been studied by anthropologists.In my book, (2013), I document these changes, and argue that the rise in mental disorders among children is largely the result of the decline in children’s freedom.He suggested that children in every culture, when allowed to play freely, play not only at the skills that are valuable to people everywhere (such as two-legged walking and running), but also at the skills that are specific to their culture (such as shooting bows and arrows or herding cattle).Learning, according to that almost automatic view, is what children do in school and, maybe, in other adult-directed activities.Empathy refers to the ability and tendency to see from another person’s point of view and experience what that person experiences.Groos followed (1901), in which he extended his insights about animal play to humans.They playfully danced the traditional dances of their culture and sang the traditional songs, but they also made up new ones.If education ‘reformers’ get their way, it will decline further still as children are deprived even more of play.Lion cubs and other young predators play at stalking and pouncing or chasing, while zebra colts and other prey species play at fleeing and dodging. children's day essays From that view, summer vacation is just a long recess, perhaps longer than necessary.In another branch of my research I’ve studied how children learn at a radically alternative school, the Sudbury Valley School, not far from my home in Massachusetts.Who dutifully do what they are told, no questions asked?It’s called a school, but is as different from what we normally think of as ‘school’ as you can imagine.’, the anthropologists unanimously said that the children were free to play nearly all of their waking hours, from the age of about four (when they were deemed responsible enough to go off, away from adults, with an age-mixed group of children) into their mid- or even late-teenage years (when they would begin, on their own initiatives, to take on some adult responsibilities).One branch of that research has been to examine children’s lives in hunter-gatherer cultures.You can’t teach creativity; all you can do is let it blossom.They played at arguing and debating, sometimes mimicking their elders or trying to see if they could reason things out better than the adults had the night before around the fire.They played at tree climbing, cooking, building huts, and building other artefacts crucial to their culture, such as dugout canoes.Yet policymakers and powerful philanthropists are continuing to push us in the opposite direction — toward more schooling, more testing, more adult direction of children, and less opportunity for free play.They did it because it was fun and because something deep inside them, the result of aeons of natural selection, urged them to play at culturally appropriate activities so they would become skilled and knowledgeable adults.Little children, before they start school, are naturally creative.But I do think there is a chance of convincing most people that play outside of school is important.School fosters competition, not co-operation; and children there are not free to quit when others fail to respect their needs and wishes.We played in mixed-age neighbourhood groups almost every day after school, often until dark. We had time to explore in all sorts of ways, and also time to become bored and figure out how to overcome boredom, time to get into trouble and find our way out of it, time to daydream, time to immerse ourselves in hobbies, and time to read comics and whatever else we wanted to read rather than the books assigned to us.Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood mental disorders have been increasing.One line of evidence comes from the results of a battery of measures of creativity — called the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (TTCT) — collected from normative samples of US schoolchildren in kindergarten through to 12th grade (age 17-18) over several decades.They are better predictors than IQ, high-school grades, or peer judgments of who will achieve the most.The decline in opportunity to play has also been accompanied by a decline in empathy and a rise in narcissism, both of which have been assessed since the late 1970s with standard questionnaires given to normative samples of college students.Analyses of the results reveal a continuous, essentially linear, increase in anxiety and depression in young people over the decades, such that the rates of what today would be diagnosed as generalised anxiety disorder and major depression are five to eight times what they were in the 1950s. children's day essays Children there spend more time at their studies than US children, and they score higher on standardised international tests.Schools were designed to teach people to do those things, and they are pretty good at it.If we love our children and want them to thrive, we must allow them more time and opportunity to play, not less.Clinical questionnaires aimed at assessing anxiety and depression, for example, have been given in unchanged form to normative groups of schoolchildren in the US ever since the 1950s.Even little children played with dangerous things, such as knives and fire, and the adults let them do it, because ‘How else will they learn to use these things?At play, children learn the most important of life’s lessons, the ones that cannot be taught in school. Why do they waste energy and risk life and limb playing, when they could just rest, tucked away safely in a burrow somewhere?As Kim puts it in her article ‘The Creativity Crisis’, published in 2011 in the , the data indicate that ‘children have become less emotionally expressive, less energetic, less talkative and verbally expressive, less humorous, less imaginative, less unconventional, less lively and passionate, less perceptive, less apt to connect seemingly irrelevant things, less synthesising, and less likely to see things from a different angle’.Other research, by the psychologist Mark Runco and colleagues at the Torrance Creativity Center at the University of Georgia, shows that scores on the TTCT are the best childhood predictors we have of future real-world achievements.He pointed out that humans, having much more to learn than other species, are the most playful of all animals.Our greatest innovators, the ones we call geniuses, are those who somehow retain that childhood capacity, and build on it, right through adulthood.They share the social expectation (and reality) that education is children’s responsibility, not something that adults do to them, and they provide unlimited freedom for children to play, explore, and pursue their own interests.When I was a child in the 1950s, my friends and I had two educations.Even more important than specific skills are the attitudes that they learn.They think of themselves as just playing, or ‘doing things’, but in the process they learning.Between 19, the average elaboration score on the TTCT, for every grade from kindergarten onwards, fell by more than one standard deviation.A decline of empathy and a rise in narcissism are exactly what we would expect to see in children who have little opportunity to play socially.My own research and ideas build on Groos’s pioneering work.They don’t necessarily think of themselves as learning.The students — who range in age from four to about 19 — are free all day to do whatever they want, as long as they don’t break any of the school rules. Yet, the school has been in existence for 45 years now and has many hundreds of graduates, who are doing just fine in the real world, not because their school taught them anything, but because it allowed them to learn whatever they wanted.To learn these lessons well, children need lots of play — lots and lots of it, without interference from adults. That’s the kind of question that evolutionary psychologists ask. children's day essays In a book called (1898), Groos argued that play came about by natural selection as a means to ensure that animals would practise the skills they need in order to survive and reproduce. children's day essays

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