Play is our greatest natural resource, so how do we make sure that our kids are playing in the right way?

In 2007, Howard Chudacoff, a professor of History at Brown University, wrote a book called Children at Play: An American History, in which he identified a disturbing trend suggesting that play is changing dramatically from a world invented by children to a world prescribed by parents and other adults. He discovered that “the resourcefulness of children’s culture has eroded, as children have become less skilled at transforming everyday objects into playthings.” Plato once said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” What do our children really need to invent for themselves in such a manufactured, overly structured world? While an African child might be monetarily poor compared with his European counterpart, I would argue that he is richer in play because he must invent the very ball he tosses or kicks around. Children in the US simply go to Walmart. From education to play consumption, we have unknowingly created a society of more game players rather than game designers —and that’s an important distinction.

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