Friday, December 05, 2008

Where Do The Children Play?

For anyone interested in the role of nature and play in child development, and the effect thereon of suburban development and school policies, I highly recommend checking out (literally, from the Princeton Public Library or elsewhere) the movie Where Do The Children Play. The Waldorf School sponsored a showing of the movie at the Princeton Public Library last night, with some of those involved in its making on hand to answer questions afterward.

The premise is that children whose schedules are overbooked, who spend large amounts of time in front of computer and TV screens and who are kept indoors by overly protective parents, are at risk. The lack of opportunities to be in nature or to explore their creativity in free play can cause children to lose touch with their creative impulses and capacity for free thinking. Connected to this is the reduced sense of place many suburban kids feel, growing up in neighborhoods where neighbors don't know one another, and where the ability for them to walk or bike to destinations is limited by sprawl. Some excellent interviews with Richard Louv and others are featured.

The movie was developed in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where I lived for many years. Though Ann Arbor is one of the safest towns around, an effort to get kids to walk to school failed miserably, apparently due to pervasive fears of "stranger danger".

More info on the movie can be found at:

The library has copies of the movie and companion books.

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