Category Archives: play

Bernie Sanders’ and Hillary Clinton’s Childhoods of Play


“I would get up on a Saturday morning when we weren’t in school. We used to play with what we called a Spaldeen rubber ball. And you would throw it starting off at the red brick, then the white brick, red brick, white brick. And then, you know, you would win I guess if you threw it all the way up there.”

“Literally I would leave 9, 10 o’clock in the morning and I would come back at 5 o’clock in the evening, exhausted. I had been running all.. day.. long. But it was a happy exhaustion. And by the way, I learned something also about democracy. We didn’t have much adult supervision. So the games were all determined not by adult cultures, [but by] kids themselves. So we would choose up a team. There was no other person dictating anything. We worked out our own rules. It was a very interesting way to grow up.”

– Bernie Sanders with Scott Pelley (CBS News) in Brooklyn, NYC, NY
FEBRUARY 10, 2016, 6:51 PM



“I was born in Chicago, but when I was about four, I moved to where I grew up, which was Park Ridge, Illinois. It was your typical 1950s suburb. Big elm trees lined the streets, meeting across the top like a cathedral. Doors were left open, with kids running in and out of every house in the neighborhood.

“We had a well-organized kids’ society and we had all kinds of games, playing hard every day after school, every weekend, and from dawn until our parents made us come in at dark in the summertime. One game was called chase and run, which was a kind of complex team-based hide-and-seek and tag combination. We would make up teams and disperse throughout the entire neighborhood for maybe a two- or three-block area, designating safe places that you could get to if somebody was chasing you. There were also ways of breaking the hold of a tag so that you could get back in the game. As with all of our games, the rules were elaborate and they were hammered out in long consultations on street corners. It was how we spent countless hours.

“We had so much imaginative game-playing time—just unstructured fun time. I had the best, most wonderful childhood: being outside, playing with my friends, being on my own, just loving life. When I was a kid in grade school, it was great. We were so independent, we were given so much freedom. But now it’s impossible to imagine giving that to a child today. It’s one of the great losses as a society. But I’m hopeful that we can regain the joy and experience of free play and neighborhood games that were taken for granted growing up in my generation. That would be one of the best gifts we could give our children.”

The quotation is from Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “An Idyllic Childhood,” in S. A. Cohen (Ed.), The Games We Played: A Celebration of Childhood and Imagination. Simon & Schuster, 2001.

As mentioned at Peter Gray’s blog

Leave a comment

Filed under direct democracy, kids -- freedom and responsibility, play, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

curiosity not passion and vocation

Elizabeth Gilbert — her book “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear,” which is part memoir, part how-to for living a life that’s less routine and more curiosity-driven.

A few notes from the interview:

–Greek word: Eudaimonia — the happiness that comes when you are engaged with your creativity at the highest level.
–We more commonly call it “being in the zone” or “a state of flow”

Gilbert on passion and vocation — scrap that and “focus on the tiny, friendly impulse of curiosity which is within all of us”

Her friend who takes up ice skating at age 40… “this is the only thing that makes her feel so alive…”

Leave a comment

Filed under art, creativity, play, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

You have your whole life to refine your mind…

You have your entire life to refine your mind. But if you don’t refine your body when you are a kid, you might struggle your entire life! And who likes being overweight? No one, last I checked!

Does school teach the following? Do parents know?

1. Childhood obesity has been found to be the greatest risk factor for premature death due to chronic disease.
2. Many adult cancers are linked to poor childhood nutrition.
3. May 2008 in the journal Nature — “…people who got fat during childhood may find it more difficult to shift the weight later in life”

Yesterday one of my kids came home from school and informed me that he was outside and running around for “6 hours” that day — fort-building, ultimate frisbee games, a 3-way tag/capture-the-flag game that someone had invented, etc, etc. He only went inside to sign-in and out, use the bathroom, and grab his lunch (which he ate outside).

More at:

Leave a comment

Filed under play, sports and outdoors, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Vygotsky is nice but not necessary

“A 2007 study published in Science looked at how 4- and 5-year-olds who were enrolled in a school that used the play-based, Vygotsky-inspired Tools of the Mind curriculum measured up to children in a more typical preschool. The students in the play-based school scored better on cognitive flexibility, self-control, and working memory—attributes of “executive function,” which has been consistently linked to academic achievement. The results were so convincing that the experiment was halted earlier than planned so that children in the typical preschool could be switched to the Tools of the Mind curriculum.”

February 20, 2011
The Case for Play
How a handful of researchers are trying to save childhood


My comment is that it is great that there is some science behind play. But honestly, even if it can be shown that kids who don’t get to play much are somehow found to be “better” than kids who grow up in an environment of extensive freedom like Sudbury Valley School (by some measurement someone comes up with…) it’s not worth it. It’s a human rights issue and we know that people (and animals) have been playing and not going to school forever and are just fine. (read Peter Gray’s blog or book: Free to Learn) Kids should be free to do what they want as much as any adult. Well, or more really, since they have no financial obligations and no kids of their own to be responsible for.

Leave a comment

Filed under kids are complete people, person: Peter Gray, play, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Ice trumps movie

The word from SVS is that the movie-filming schedule took a hit today due to a variety of not-completely-understood-by-me factors but one of them being the fact that that the pond is finally skateable for the first time this winter.

The boys brought their skates today and Ansel announced that “I skated pretty much all day. Best day ever! Except the picnic.” (Except the picnic, which I glean is awesome because it involves unlimited yummy food and ultimate/frisbee pretty much all day)

Sudbury Valley School for the win.

Here’s a great ice day from winter 2014:

Leave a comment

Filed under outdoors, play, seasons, sports, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

Vermont Kids – 1975 movie now on DVD

Vermont Kids
by John Marshall

And from the same film-maker:
Play and Place: Transforming Environments (produced for the Open University division of the BBC)

Click to access PlaceAndPlay.pdf

Leave a comment

Filed under play, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

The big idea: Children are biologically designed to educate themselves

The big idea: Children are biologically designed to educate themselves

Leave a comment

Filed under person: Peter Gray, play, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School