A proof of the "Roadrunner Society" that the authors were pertaining to is this ad I saw at www.adweek.com. The ad clearly markets Gymboree's classes by preying on parents' fears that their children might fall behind others if they don't enroll them in these kinds of activities.
The book has opened me to the realities of today's society that puts pressure on the children to achieve more, better and faster. As a parent, I may not fall prey to these kinds of marketing strategies, but the message of the authors has given me a more critical eye in singling these kinds of ads that send wrong messages to parents and practitioners. It has made me more aware of the environment and how it has contributed to the anxiety of the parents to push their children some more.
The book was very insightful especially when it tackled the findings of researches on how children really learn and develop. As a teacher, it provided me the backup to use play as often as possible in curriculum planning. Prior to reading the book, I had some ideas about the benefits of play in children. However, the book has widened my knowledge about the effects of play even in the areas of social and emotional development. I used to presume that children's intellectual development needed nurturing and that social development will take care of itself. Now, I understand better that children need help in regulating their emotions and that our responses t them shape their sense of self.
In the area of cognitive development, the authors pointed out how play is really the foundation for learning. During play, children are able to talk more, create more and engage more. Play is directly related to greater creativity and imagination for children, which is important in developing their problem solving skills. The book's message about play has made me reflect on the frequency I utilize play as a way for children to learn about the concepts we introduce in school. It illustrated how learning meaningless, disembodied facts is so shallow compared to learning in context. Play provides learning that is real and allows the innate creativity in children.
After reading the book, I feel that my role as an educator should also extend to an advocate of play. I can do it right inside my classroom by providing children with more resources for play and encouraging learning by setting up activities that are play-based. As a co teacher, I can communicate the benefits of play to my colleagues. Educating parents is also an important factor in advocating play for children.
In a way, the book's message has helped relieved the stress and anxiety I may have over the quantity and pace of learning the children I am involved with are suppose to have. It reassures me that my instincts with children are correct and that I should resist being affected by the inputs of a marketing strategy like the one above is communicating. Play should be given back to children and emphasized more than ever. Reflect. Resist. Re-center.