Several weeks ago I stumbled across a rather hard-nosed perspective on gifts by Seth Godin in his book, Graceful. He states …
“In a world of scarcity, gifts are expensive. If I give you something, I have less of it. In a world of scarcity, then, gifts need some sort of repayment. Gifts are actually favours. I’ll do this then you do that, okay? And a gift that’s a favour is no gift at all.”
This summed up the situation when I first began teaching. I walked into an almost empty classroom teaching P2/3 (Grades 1/2). As I had nothing of material value to give other teachers in the school, I got nothing in return. As a newbie, my inexperience was quietly laughed at. The teachers who had been there the longest had the greatest power, because they had the most stuff acquired. They were in a strong bargaining position.
Occasionally I got tidbits of advice and very occasionally a pencil, rubber or other such gift – usually as an act of sympathy following a public display of my inadequacy as a teacher. I remember, after a month of being at this school, asking my line manager, the Depute Head, for a bag of sand.
“Sand?” was her response, “Why do you need sand?”
“So my children can play with it,” I replied.
“My dear, your children have done their playing in Primary 1.”
Can you imagine a world where children stop playing aged 5 1/2?
Seth Godin, continued to make another interesting remark about gifts:
“True gifts bring people closer together. An unconditional gift, one given with nothing expected in return, can change everything. It creates conversations and spreads ideas. It opens doors and creates forward motion.”
In a school that values children and their need for play, then play is not in scarce supply but will fundamentally underpin the activities that happen. It will be an unconditional gift – a right that happens daily regardless of the weather, the behaviour of a child and the organisational routines. It will be allowed.
Imagine a play-based school. Imagine the fun. Imagine the curiosity, imagination and creativity that will happen. Hmm….
As for me, I’m going to give myself the gift of time with my family. I’ll be back in 2011. Enjoy the holiday season.