Play as work

Whatever we as adults might think of it, play is children's work. We are encultured to think of work as something we do for which we receive remuneration. This is, of course, a myth, a socio-economic fabrication we are spoon fed at home and at school, as if paid, economic employment is somehow more meaningful and relevant than, say, housework, which remains for the vast majority as unpaid work and irrelevant to the socio-economic model.

It is long overdue to dispel such myths and get to grips with reality. 

Work is meaningful human activity in whatever form it takes. Remuneration has nothing to do with it, that's an entirely separate issue, albeit a necessary one. But the two should not be conjoined. On consideration it is probably fair to say that unpaid work outstrips paid work by an enormous degree. Housework, caring for a relative or friend, child play, child care, voluntary work from arranging flowers in a place of worship to charity shops, keeping an allotment and growing food. All this and more lies hidden behind the socio-economic model and is largely disregarded as the gainful use of our time and energy.

Children are working at growing. They are only capable of doing things appropriate to their age and cognitive abilities and they work hard. They are not sluggards by any means and are rarely to be seen indulging in work avoidance as is often the case in the world of socio economics.

A child centred approach has regard for meaningful activity and does not dismiss it as just the kids playing. The projection of play as a kind of child nonsense, without any particular value or meaning is another myth. How else are children to learn about the world if they don't play in it and interact with it in what ever way they can? Children's play, as work, is a lot more meaningful than many a paid job. It's vital.

There is something intrinsically wrong with money being the measure of our worth and labour. 

Once again, being child centred has valuable lessons to teach us about gainful use of time and can help us reevaluate our entire encultured view of work. 

At a time of high unemployment in paid work, regarding the so called unemployed as feckless scroungers, good for nothings, reflects adversely more on those who buy into myth of their own self importance, than it does on the real nature of work, without which the whole of society would grind to a halt in a very short time. 

The need now is for children to learn and grow to value their time and activity as having intrinsic worth for their own sake. Such a change of values is much more likely to produce creative entrepreneurs, a willingness to engage with life, face problems as interesting challenges, take risks, discover their personal skills and talents and be confident in life. 


2011 Keith Lindsay-Cameron.