In a recent article titled “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid,” social psychologist Jonathan Haidt expounded on the confluence of factors that are presently undermining our society. Among his conclusions about what reforms have the potential to avert disaster: We must prepare the next generation for democratic citizenship. Wow, that sounds nifty, mister, but how do we do that?
Among the curatives Haidt recommends is the panacea of play! More to the point, free, mixed-age, unsupervised play, noting: “Unsupervised free play is nature’s way of teaching young mammals the skills they’ll need as adults, which for humans include the ability to cooperate, make and enforce rules, compromise, adjudicate conflicts and accept defeat.”
So, how can you help reverse the downfall of democracy this summer? Take a deep breath, open the door and let them out on their own to play.