“All too often children’s spontaneous active play has been transformed into passive audience participation.” — David Elkind, The Power of Play, pg. xii
Recess duty was a new experience for me when I became a Montessori teacher, and my first day on the playground was an eye opener. I thought that it would not be that hard to let the children play and get rid of their excess energy. However, the school I was at took a different view of what was considered appropriate play. I was informed that the children were not allowed to play tag or run on the black top because they might fall and get hurt; they could not roll down the hill as they would get dirty; and they were not allowed to play football because it was a contact sport. There was no climbing equipment because of concerns that the children might fall off. The children were not even allowed to shout and play loudly in case they disturbed the other classes. Once winter came and snow covered the playground, the children were not allowed to play in the field and were expected instead to walk around the pre-shoveled area on the blacktop. The children were not happy with these restrictions. They were bored and often took out their frustration on each other. It became a frequent topic at our bi-weekly class meetings.