The Perils of Nostalgia

  1. Updates

Jill Vialet

A friend of mine made the observation the other day that almost all the criticisms of our approach begin with some version of “When I was young…” I think she’s right.  People fondly remember play and recess  – the halcyon days of youth, unencumbered by pressures and constraints of adulthood.   I’m not knocking nostalgia wholesale, but our memories don’t tend to be all that accurate, reflecting specific incidents more often than the general state of things, as columnist Steve Duin so ably points out in his column on recess and Playworks in the Portland Oregonian. 

But perhaps more importantly, times have indeed changed.  It’s funny how we are quick to acknowledge the huge global changes that have occurred in the last twenty years when we are discussing social media or economic globalization, but when it comes to things related to childhood – play, education – it is almost assumed that nothing has changed at all.  It could be argued that this resistance to acknowledging change presents one of the single greatest obstacles we have in building systems that best serve kids.
Some changes require an uncomfortable and extended focus on how things actually are, right now. These frequent references to the way things once were only serve to distract us from making the changes that need to be made. In this case, nostalgia is a distraction.  Play has changed.  Recess has changed.  Coaches have changed. And kids are kids.  We owe them our unwavering focus on the very real problems of today so that we can provide them with the very real solutions so desperately needed.

More Updates

November 9, 2020

Play Builds Serious Skills ›

Playtime is many things. It’s fun for children. It’s an escape for busy parents. But it’s much more than that. According to Dr. Stephanie M. Carlson, distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota, and Reflection Sciences co-founder, “Play is about as ‘blueprinted’ a behavior as you can have in terms of basic survival and reproduction.” Furthermore,…

October 6, 2020

Using Play to Foster Social Connections and Physical Activity ›

Play isn’t just fun and games – it’s a vital aspect of our health and well-being. When we play, we engage our bodies, minds, and senses, creating opportunities for increased physical activity, learning, and connection with others. Play can even help relieve stress and support the development of important social-emotional skills, including communication and cooperation.…

September 3, 2020

How Equity, Trauma, and Play Intersect ›

The play opportunity gap Play is critical for healthy child development as it is a safe way for kids to experiment and practice building relationships and cooperating with others. And yet, even in normal circumstances before COVID-19, there wasn’t an equal opportunity for every kid to play. We need to make sure this disparity does…