Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Just Playing?

On this day of turmoil and revenge, I thought it would be nice to remember the joys of childhood and innocence. 
One of the questions we are so often asked at Latika and Karuna Vihar is "Don't you ever teach the children? All they seem to do is to play." 

It's so hard to convince parents that when they play, children are learning all they need to know, that their brains are hard-wired for this, that for kids, play is work and that they actually need to do it to grow and flourish.

When Marcie was here last week with Paula, she told me about a poem by Anita Wadley about the importance of play. I loved the idea, but I wasn't wild about the way it was written. So I did my own version below and added photos to make it even more fun. I tried to give a link to the original version at the end of the post, but I keep getting an error message - just google Anita Wadley if you'd like to read it.

Building castles out of blocks
I dream of shape and form
I wonder about balance
And how a house is born.
I stack the blocks so carefully
I keep myself quite still
I’m learning how each piece behaves
And how a space is filled.

I’m going to be an architect.
And you think I’m just playing?

Wearing Mama’s high-heeled shoes
I stand up tall and straight
I pack my briefcase on my own
And kiss the kids – I’m late!
I know they want to tag along
But Mama has to work
I’m off to court to try a case
I’m wearing Mama’s skirt.

I’m going to be a lawyer.
And you think I’m just playing?

This picture that I’m working on
Was going to be a tree
But on the way, another thought
Seemed just as good to me –
A tree of stars, each branch alight
Demanded to be drawn -
The vision from inside my heart
Appeared here on its own.

I’m going to be an artist.
And you think I’m just playing?

My students sit in tidy rows
And wait for me to speak.
Well, three are dolls, and one’s a cat
Who thinks I’m speaking Greek.
He won’t sit still or do his work
He doesn’t like to read –
For him I’ve got an IEP:
He’s got ADHD.

I’m going to be a teacher.
And you think I’m just playing?

This hole goes clear to Africa
Straight down, clean and bright
I’ve got my shovel and some forks
I’m sure my map is right.
I’ve been working here since morning
You can help me if you wish
But don’t disturb the little elves
They’ve just come off their shift.

I’m going to be an explorer.
And you think I’m just playing?

I’m busy with this puzzle
I have to fit this piece
The one that seems to have no home
No matter how I squeeze.
It seems some rules are absolute
Like square pegs and round holes
I’m learning how to work it out
I’m focused on my goals.

I’m going to be a problem-solver.
And you think I’m just playing?

Ask me what I did today –
The answer’s always “Played.”
At school, at home and on the bus –
My mind’s just built that way.
I’m a child and play’s my job
It’s what I’m meant to do –
It’s how I learn about the world
And grow to be like you!

I’m going to be a grownup.
And you think I’m just playing?


shipra said...

Loved it, Jo!!!
I watch parents in the park here 'teaching' their two year old the spelling of 'a-p-p-l-e' and getting frustrated when he/she is unable to repeat.Feel like giving all of them copies of your poem,Jo.

edmund said...

Dear Jo,

I much prefer your version!It's got a catchy beat, and the photos accompany the words beautifully. It's playful, too, thus mirroring the underlying message. If you were a child, I'd suggest that maybe you'd be a poet one day!

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks to both of you! Preaching to the choir!

chicu said...

love the way you've brought out the importance of play, Jo. But it's sad that there is a need to justify it. Whatever happened to play for happiness' sake? Both for children AND adults?

Sarah Freeman-Woolpert said...

Wow, Jo! What an amazing poem and so perfectly illustrated by your photographs. I hope the children are doing well and enjoying life-- it sure looks like it.

ana @ i made it so said...

i just love this post. i've read it over three or four times now, and that last photo is the perfect exclamation at the end! brilliant.

have a wonderful mother's day. it's not celebrated there is it?

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks, everyone.

Chicu, I've thought about your point so much. I know. Seems so ridiculous to have to come up with all these logical reasons to justify play - it's good enough just as it is! Yet, parents are so desperate for their kids to do better in life than they did - and I can't blame them. Play for its own sake, with no agenda, may be a luxury we can afford because we know our kids will do fine in the long run. The parents I deal with aren't so sure.

ana, Happy Mother's Day to you too! No formal celebration here, but Archie's (our local version or Hallmark) is doing its best to market it.

Anna @ The Imagination Tree said...

This is wonderful! A brilliant way to illustrate the need to play. Thanks for linking up to It's Playtime!

ಪುಟ್ಟಿಯ ಅಮ್ಮ/Putti Amma said...

Love all of them and the photos!! 'TO play is kid's job let them do it' :))

Mama Pea Pod said...

Love, love, love this! I'm sharing it on fb and will definitely be posting it in my classroom next year if that's ok with you!

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks to all you play ladies! Mama Pea Pod, of course you can share it . . .

Melinda @Eco Toys said...

This is just beautiful! I'd love to also share your version on my blog. Even the photos are truly special.

Jo Chopra McGowan said...

Thanks, Melinda . . . your blog is stunning!