Letting The Child Work: Real Learning, Real Play In School
Unschoolers, and those who practice democratic, free, and progressive education philosophies, are often uncomfortable with a particular choice their children make: as Summerhill’s A. S. Neill observed: “Every child under freedom plays most of the time for years” (1964, p. 116). Those who see children as active, motivated learners can be disappointed when, given an environment rich with fascinating choices, their children spend most of their time in fantasy. The families’ discomfort can result in a reversion to more conventional schooling. Beginning with an early encounter with educational democracy during the 1970s at Toronto’s ALPHA Alternative School, supported with commentary from educators from schools that took a parallel path, and from psychologists and education critics both historic and contemporary, this article gathers arguments that support play as not only a pleasure but a necessity for growth, learning and mental health.
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