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Do you think there’s a deficit of play in the lives of children or adults? If so, what’s your suggested antidote?

We seem to witness both an overkill of entertainment—and its pedagogical servant: edutainment—and a lack of open-ended and constructive play—and its pedagogical equivalent—genuine “hard fun”: the ability to move or operate freely in a bounded space. The metaphor of the “leap” is often used to capture the sense of exuberance and freedom that characterize children’s play, as well as its boundary-crossing nature. Problem is: We can’t just leap without a place to land, and there would be no levity without gravity. It is in this deep sense that play is not merely an escape from reality but the freedom to participate in, transform and be transformed by the world.

As John Holt put it “Children use fantasy not to get out of, but to get into, the real world”. It is their way of understanding it and coming to grips with their experience, turning it over and owning it. To play is to become a part of a reality in constant transformative engagement with itself. Play does not disappear with adulthood, nor is it a luxury reserved to poets and artists alone.

What’s to be learned from kids?

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