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24 January 2005

Everything else is proofreading

Philip Pullman on play:

The most valuable attitude we can help children adopt - the one that, among other things, helps them to write and read with most fluency and effectiveness and enjoyment - I can best characterise by the word playful.

It begins with nursery rhymes and nonsense poems, with clapping games and finger play and simple songs and picture books. It goes on to consist of fooling about with the stuff the world is made of: with sounds, and with shapes and colours, and with clay and paper and wood and metal, and with language. Fooling about, playing with it, pushing it this way and that, turning it sideways, painting it different colours, looking at it from the back, putting one thing on top of another, asking silly questions, mixing things up, making absurd comparisons, discovering unexpected similarities, making pretty patterns, and all the time saying "Supposing ... I wonder ... What if ... "

...It's when we do this foolish, time-consuming, romantic, quixotic, childlike thing called play that we are most practical, most useful, and most firmly grounded in reality, because the world itself is the most unlikely of places, and it works in the oddest of ways, and we won't make any sense of it by doing what everybody else has done before us. It's when we fool about with the stuff the world is made of that we make the most valuable discoveries, we create the most lasting beauty, we discover the most profound truths. The youngest children can do it, and the greatest artists, the greatest scientists do it all the time. Everything else is proofreading.

Posted at 09:04 AM in Children and teens, Learning, Play | Permalink


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Oh. My. Goodness.


Posted by: matt at 24 Jan 2005 12:37:03

Really brilliant. Thanks for the highlight!!!

Posted by: Riccardo (Bru) Cambiassi at 24 Jan 2005 20:54:38

As a scientist I have realized how much truth there are in this observation. In addition, I would like to mention that for a proper exercise you also need to know how to distribute your "spare" time to do it so.

Posted by: Manuel at 25 Jan 2005 18:28:18