Experts agree, Ann Hurlbut writes, "that the loss of natural play opportunities in an urbanized world of smaller families and a 'push-button civilization' meant that play, alas, could no longer be left to kids. Read her article and on online discussion about the state of (child's) play.
Our era of superachievement angst and No Child Left Behind duress is not the first time adults have worried that academic pressures are prematurely crowding out the kind of hands-on playtime that kids love. It will also not be the last time that the crusade to restore the primacy of play runs the risk of eroding the very playfulness the crusaders are eager to see more of. The paradox of the endeavor seems all but unavoidable. Play advocates bolster their case by proclaiming play's social, emotional, and cognitive benefits, as David Elkind has recently done in The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children. Yet the more successful such advocates are in their instrumental defense of play, the further they stray from an appreciation of play as precisely the opposite—a pursuit that serves children's own (not always obviously constructive) purposes, rather than the didactic designs of their elders.
It is a conversation reminiscent f our earlier item on Boys Gone Mild.