Play is a critical basis for learning. And boys’ heroic play is no exception. [Researchers Mary Ellin] Logue and [Hattie] Harvey found that “bad guy” play improved children’s conversation and imaginative writing. Such play, say the authors, also builds moral imagination, social competence and imparts critical lessons about personal limits and self-restraint. Logue and Harvey worry that the growing intolerance for boys’ action-narrative-play choices may be undermining their early language development and weakening their attachment to school. Imagine the harm done to boys…who are not merely discouraged from their choice of play, but are punished, publicly shamed and ostracized.
This “war on boys” isn’t a standalone problem. It comes out of a blue model educational philosophy that wants everyone to learn in the same conventional, Gradgrindian way that was developed during the Industrial Revolution. No play, just the facts, please.Some kids learn best through imaginative games; others by getting their hands dirty in skills and trades; still others by auditory or visual interaction. Trying to constrict the different kinds of learning that can take place was never a good idea in the first place, and it’s certainly outdated in a time when economic upheavals and creative destruction are the order of the day. We need to be training entrepreneurs, not monochromatic fact-regurgitation machines.Allowing different kinds of learning styles to flourish is a key criterion for moving beyond the blue model to a more flexible, creative, and entrepreneurial system.[Punished child image courtesy of Shutterstock]