The Logical Philosopher

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Children at play

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Earlier I was watching a group of young children play, all ages 1-3. Over the hour of uninterrupted play I saw them form into several types of groups:

  1. Fearless vs. Fearfull: some cried unless their parents came back to the room, and the played contently anyways.
  2. Leaders vs. Followers: who got the toys first and moved to the next toy.
  3. Sharing vs. Hoarding: some hung back to see how things were going while hanging onto what they had, and others just kept on trucking, sharing all they could.
And all through the morning several of the parents were trying to confort the fearfull into staying without them, coax the follwers into the group and talk the hoarders into sharing.

The thing that struck me was it was the same scene I saw several years ago during an orientation of grad-students, just with a bunch of 25-35 year olds instead. As I contemplated Emerson's quote about the weeds, all I could think of was the fact that 25 years later, these kids will be in the same situation, just no partents to socially bail them out on the fly. I always thought with time you could teach children things, turn their weeds into plans or stamp out the ones that really didn't below. My point - weeds or no weeds and all virtue discovery aside - these kids have alot of life to live and 25 years later they'll be in the same room doing the same things with the same group of personalities.

If only someone had warned me...