Saturday, November 14, 2009

Work and Play

Evelyn had a class at Lawrence Hall of Science, so Clem and a friend got to play with the kapla blocks.
In this case "play" meant stooping, gathering blocks and placing them over and over again. When the tower got too tall for them they had to stack stools to stand on. I was glad no museum staff walked in on this scene.
It took forty five minutes to build.
And but a moment to...
...destroy

We just finished listening to Tom Sawyer in the car and I thought of this passage on work and play. It comes during that scene where Tom tricks his friends into whitewashing the fence for him:

If he [Tom] had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement.

This, I think, is the secret of homeschooling, which I have to learn and relearn. If you don't oblige kids to do work sooner or later they will do it themselves and call it play.

Even math and the dishes, but not the latter often enough.

8 comments:

sarah in the woods said...

I love this post! such an encouragement.

Barbara said...

Very wise! I think I need to copy that out and tape it on my mirror to keep reminding myself!

patricia said...

That is one stunning structure they made!

And yes, sometimes I feel like Tom, trying to be clever and tricking the people around me into thinking work is play. But I do better when I watch what they're playing and try to figure out how that can be construed as work. And with homeschooling, that often works pretty well!

Susan said...

Sarah, thanks!

Barbara, me too. And yet...I worry that my kids occupy a disadvantageous place on the hedonic treadmill. They are so used to doing only what they want to that any bit of imposed work is treated as the most arduous and grueling of labors. Sometimes I think I should make them work hard so that they can enjoy their play more.

Tricia, oh, you've caught me out. I have been such a Tom lately with Greta! I'm planning on posting about it. She asked to learn to read but was frustrated with the "work". So we've been casting /o/ and /i/ spells and inventing games. She comes running out in the morning begging to do a reading game... She even offered to give me all her money if I would "play". Tom indeed!

td said...

Wow, what an amaaazzzzing structure that is!!!
And yes, you're quite right about work vs. play -- even
for adults no longer officially in school ; - >

The Stone Age Techie said...

Funny that the kids already know this, and we have to keep re-learning it.

Also, their structure is SO cool!!! What blocks are they using?

Cheers -
Karen

Kristin said...

That was some tower they built. When you described it to me that day, I really had no idea how enormous it was until I saw these photos. It was an amazing structure! Now will you be seeking anything about architecture? Someone's got the bug for it.

ashley said...

I haven't been to visit your blog for awhile. I miss you and your girls so much! Looks like you are have been having a fabulous fall! Tell girls that Marah, Ethan and Abby say hello.