The effect of play upon the individual from his earliest infancy to adult life has been most illuminatingly traced by Dr. Gulick in his book, A Philosophy of Play, which appeared after his death.
Dr. Gulick's conclusions are based not only on his wide experience as an educator and as one of the founders of the movement for organized recreation which is being fostered by the Playground and Recreation Association of America, of which he was president for a number of years, but also on his careful study of the actions and reactions of his own children from their early years.
The instincts which find expression in certain kinds of play; the home-building and home-making instincts which playing house develops; the hunting and fighting games so popular with boys; fire play, the fascination of which is associated with the earliest life of the human race-all the forms of play which bring children into their racial inheritance Dr. Gulick advocates as channels of self-expression which make themselves felt in character-building for the individual, the family, and the race.
What the proper satisfaction of the play instinct can mean in terms of self-mastery, loyalty, morality, and happiness is forcefully emphasized by Dr. Gulick in stating his three main conclusions:
1. That the individual is more completely revealed in play than in any other one way, and conversely, that play has a greater shaping power over the character and nature of man than has any one other activity.
2. That a people most truly reveals itself in the character of its pleasures, and that the manner of its pleasures is the most character-determining force within a people. 3. That each individual recapitulates the history of his kind both in individual growth and in social relations.
Play is not a preparation for life - it is life. On this principle Dr. Gulick lays much stress throughout his book. This being the case, American communities must see to it that their children shall have every opportunity for the kind of play which will make them better citizens and develop self-control and real freedom; they must provide opportunity for social intercourse between young men and young women which will bring them together in a normal way. Only thus will communities have the enrichment and the broader life which comes from the freedom engendered by social control.
-Journal of Social Hygiene, Volume 6 show more