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The Cutting Edge


So many times I open mail, the paper, see a pop-up add, or commercial on TV for something so new and perfect that I will not only be incomplete if I don’t use this, I could actually be diminishing the potential of myself or someone in my family. I think I’m a pretty well rounded person. I’ve been to college, kids play dates, made cookies with the boys, read about farts, and crashed a few Hot Wheels into a volcano of goo. However, there are these edutainment or informercials or whatever, that leave me feeling like I missed every opportunity to help my kids succeed.

People these days are teaching their babies to read. Babies, infants, like months old, when you count their ages in months. My kids are 12 and 14 and they learned to read the old fashioned way. I hope that was enough. Not to worry, I can still Hook them on Phonics. Whew, that was close.

Think about it, teaching a baby to read. What’s wrong with just letting a baby crawl around and suck on their feet? Rattle keys, hide the remote, all those great things babies do! How much play do we have to remove from life? The impact this has on the rest of development is something I’d like to know. What do we create when we make little adults instead of block stacking toddlers?

This isn’t right. Products like these can create the feeling that if one doesn’t partake of these they are doing their children a disservice. When I was young, we played outside. I had Breyer horses and Barbie dolls. Things went pretty well on the Rainbow Drive front yard ranch. I went to school when it was time and came home when school was over. I got my work done at school so I never had much homework. I did have loads of play time and we used it!

Now, students have on average 180 +/- school days. They have homework starting in kindergarten. Yet, students are learning less. All this focus on hours in seats, and time on task hasn’t made schools perform better. At the same time children are doing less and less of what they should be doing, play.

My boys Judo teacher says “Play is your attitude.” Play is what we all need to do to be healthy in our minds and our bodies. When we played more, we weighed less and had more rigorous curriculum. We valued play because we knew what work was. We valued work because we we knew what play was.

Today, our perspective is lost. Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) and educational theorists tell us all these new things will bring our schools to a competitive level with other countries. I disagree. These other countries not only play, they have it worked in school and employment schedules, even maternity leave. A woman in my birthing class had her child in France, she was on vacation and delivered early. She had 9 days of support and care for her and her baby. 9 days was what every mother got. 

Play is more than soccer, football, or tennis. Play is living life and the moments of life. It’s gazing at clouds. Running out kite string. Holding an infant. Singing in choir. Without a fair amount of play, the balance in life is lost. We teeter and then get stuck with our butt grounded on the work side and no way to totter back to the middle. It’s fine to be cutting edge but don’t stay there. You might just cut yourself on it.