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  • Anna Brix Thomsen

Expropriating the Value of Work through Play. 89

In the last post titled Arbeit Macht Frei… Or does it? On reclaiming the Value of our Work. 88 we discussed the word Work in relation to Work in its purest form being an expression of each individual’s unique skills and abilities and how the notion of Work as it is currently manifested and defined has become something obscured that subjugates the individual into unnatural living conditions. In this post we are continuing the discussion from where we left of, now focusing on the situation of the child in his or her educational environment and how the expropriation of Work starts already in childhood with a distinct separation between ‘work’ and ‘play’.

”Toys” are built on fantasy, not the real world of things that are connected with the process of true natural development. (…) If you want to train children to become weak, dependent, victim adults, capable of only imitating and follow routine directions from others, unable to think responsibly for themselves, then certainly you would want to feed them a steady stream of toys and fantasy. However, if your vision and hope for a world goes above that “victim” state of slavery in the world, then give them real objects to concentrate and develop mental order that prepares them to think effectively for themselves. This later “work” oriented preparation for children is the path I would choose for all. “ Quote: Lee Havis, Executive Director at International Montessori Society from a discussion on LinkedIn

Exactly as our work as adults becomes something that is separate from us, something that we must sell in order to buy back resources to sustain ourselves, so do we teach children that their activities are separate from ‘real life’ and we instead endow them with a fantasy life through which they then are taught to detach themselves from reality. We teach them that they are not good enough or skilled enough – or even important or worthy enough – to participate in activities that matter. (To be clear, we’re here specifically discussing children and work in the Western World.) Often the justification on the part of the parent or the general adult will be that we don’t have time to do things with a child in hand and so any and all activity involving real life issues such as cooking or cleaning will be done without the child. Or we complain that it is the child that does not want to participate in spite of us prompting them to join in, not realizing how at that point the child has already become conditioned to prefer fantasy over reality due to our examples to them not being clear, concise and commonsensical.

Adults are the result of a perpetuating process of brainwashing that teaches us that our survival is contingent upon a constant chasing of and keeping up with the momentum of the hamster wheel that is our daily lives. As adults we exist within a tightly squeezed continuum between past, present and future, stuck in minds constantly calculating minutes, hours and days while weighing wants, needs and desires against costs and expenses. There is no room for the unconditional and immediate expression of a child in that way of thinking. Children – at least when they are young – do not feel burdened or pressured by time. When they walk, they do so in an ever-patient expression of curiosity and discovery like pioneers embarking on a journey into a new land. They take everything in while occasionally stopping up as they become enthralled by a bug or with a question about how birds know where south is when they see them migrate over the sky. When children bake, they want to feel the flour, taste the salt, smell the yeast and throw the dough all at once and as adults we simply don’t have the patience for that kind of exercise, (unless we are particularly educationally inclined or by chance haven’t lost sight with that part of ourselves that is still curious about life.) Instead we’re already several hours a head in our minds and while the little ones chirp away about cookie dough monsters, we think about the flour we’ll have to sweep up and how much of a hassle it is to have the child with us in the kitchen and how much easier it would be to park the child in front of the TV while we bake those spelt buns that will make us look like the wholesome parents we so desperately want to be.

There are thus two reasons why we as adults promote fantasy over reality when it comes to our children: one being that we do not exist in reality ourselves and so can’t handle being in reality with our children and the other being that this is how we’ve deliberately programmed our reality where we do not want children to be integrated into reality, but instead want them to become detached and favorable towards a fantasy life that will ensure their acceptance of being separated from the value of their expression as that which we call Work. You and I may not do it consciously, but we have collectively participated in creating a society that does so incessantly, especially through the media and the consumerist system.

As Havis so clearly mentioned the quote shared above, children when they are young, would much rather be a part of real life than playing with toys but in the traditional educational and parenting environment we fail to see this to such a degree that we automatically assume that they prefer toys. We have become so accustomed to taking toys for granted as a normal part of a child’s life growing up that we even fail to recognize how much toys and games that children interact with and partake in are simulations of real life. A prominent example is when children play house or when they play with plastic kitchens the complementary plastic food. They’re simulating a reality that they are prohibited from partaking in.

So as we have been separated and have separated ourselves from our own work as the expression of our unique individual abilities, we have made work something forced that we are subjugated to, while ’play’ or ’free time’ is where we consider ourselves ’free to express’. It is then the exact same division that we are teaching to our children; that work inherently is something one has to do and that one is separated from and have no say over whereas play is where one can be oneself so to speak. What is inherent in ‘play’ as it is being separated from work, as Havis also mentions is that it is simulated, artificial and based on fantasy. It thus supports children to invent and exist in fantasy realities and quickly starts experiencing reality and real life as ‘boring’, ‘tedious’ and something that is forced upon them by adults. There is in essence nothing ‘wrong’ with simulations, it is the division between ‘real life’ and ‘fantasy’ that is the problem and so also the division between ‘work’ and ‘play’. What we fail to realize is that this dichotomy is a socially engineered strategy enforced by ruthless (and equally indoctrinated) marketing executives and others involved in profiting from the consumerist system. It teaches us to accept and normalize the conditions we are subjected to where our work is not an expression of our value or ourselves as human beings and where we literally have to buy ‘free time’ through selling our labor. That ‘free time’ is then again another artificial sphere where we are being prompted and impulse to prefer certain ‘pastimes’ that supports the wheels of consumerism to keep turning and that keep us enclosed with limited opportunities to express and realize our true potential. One simply has to look at what do people like to do when they’re ‘off’ work and it becomes evident how placated we have become as the worker bees of consumer capitalism. From watching TV to drinking alcohol and shopping, there is little to no development or expansion of a true and valuable expression.

The solution is twofold in that we simultaneously have to work on changing the conditions we have enslaved ourselves to as well as educate and re-educate ourselves to start valuing our work as an expression of our value and unique abilities through which we best can support society as a whole to thrive.

A subject such as math could be taught through students driving out and fixing broken fences on a farmer’s land or through cooking nutritious school meals for their class. Instead of playing with plastic dolls children could have sessions of interaction with babies or even with elderly people, which is something that research has shown that both children and elderly benefits greatly from. If Work, real valuable work would be implemented into a child’s education and daily life, I am sure that children would naturally grow and develop an interest in and passion for education. Education wouldn’t be a bubble separate from rest of society with meaningless tasks and projects, completely disconnected from rest of reality. What we are thus perpetuating in children when we prohibit them from participating in real life activities and instead encourage them to seek meaning in simulated and virtual realities are fractioned identities and low self-esteem resulting in children growing up without respect for themselves or the environment they are a part of. How is anyone supposed to care for, be passionate about or take responsibility for a world that they were never allowed to engage in? How are children supposed to become sovereign and independent adults when we do not even entrust them with learning the basic skills of life?

Have a look at a small child walking down the street with their mother or father. You will see the child walking in a pace that suits the physical body, a pace that is slow enough for the child to observe and interact with its environment as well as its own physical body. The child will stop up, smell the roses, pet a dog, and look in awe after a fire truck. The adult on the other hand will be rushed, stressed or distracted by whatever catches their eye on their cell phone. They will yank the child, blame the child, yell at the child for making them late so that the wheels of their life can keep turning in a pace way too hasty for any natural expression to be explored or developed. The child will soon learn the negative consequences that come with following its natural expression and to please the adult and to stay out of trouble it will adapt its pace to follow the adult and it will retreat into itself and keep its expression out of harms way. But we are fortunately enough immensely resilient creatures and that means that although our natural expression may be dormant in a deep state of hibernation and suppressed, it still exists within us, even as adults. And this is why most of us are so unsatisfied and feel trapped, depressed, hopeless and angry about our life and living situation, especially when it comes to work. This is why we drink and do drugs and prefer sitting in front of the TV rather than going out there and getting our hands dirty. Because what is the point? The point is that, if we do not want our children to grow up losing the spark that makes them light up the world as they do when they are young, we are going to have to dedicate ourselves to, not only reigniting that same spark within ourselves but to dare to step into a process of changing the world systems and stop the wheels of consumer capitalism from spinning us straight from cradle to grave. There is a different way. There is a solution. Living Income Guaranteed. It is a proposal for a system that will enable us to, for the first time in the history of mankind, become the sovereign authorities of our own Work and so through that be able to contribute to creating a society that truly is Best for All and give our lives the meaning and purpose that we have longed for since we were children. Because as we all know, there is nothing more rewarding than contributing to creating something valuable and useful out of nothing. Giving our lives real meaning, purpose and value is what we all long for. For the benefit of all of humanity and for the potential for life on earth to thrive in ways we have never thought possible, there is thus no greater lesson to teach a child: that the Value of our Lives, is Life and that through Work we can express ourselves as that Value and so honor ourselves as Life.

This post was written in continuation to the following series of blog-posts

Re-Educate yourself here:

A couple of weeks ago I was part of the panel on a Live Google Hangout about the Common Core standards initiative. I definitely recommend watching it.

The Ultimate History Lesson with John Taylor Gatto:


Human Resources: Social Engineering in the 20th Century

The Story of Your Enslavement

On Advertisement and the end of the world:

Third World America – Chris Hedges

More articles about parenting and education in a Guaranteed Living Income System:

Watch the hangout about Education for a New World in Order:

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