Streets and Children

This week I really enjoyed the reading, and in particular Ray’s piece on childhood and the value of street play. I think he hit such a variety of important points having to do with the role of streets and independent play on childhood development.

The piece also made me think once again about my own childhood, but his comments about the modern city, and in particular the modern italian city, made me realize how disconnected we have become from the ways of play in the past. Not only do we not see children playing in the streets outside our homes, but even the imagery of play and childhood has shifted from what it once was. I can fondly recall many examples of media that depicted the freedom of childhood in ways I feel like I never see anymore, which solidifies this notion of change that has taken place.

For example, my favorite book as a child was Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo, in which a 10 year old girl finds community and a great big dog wandering around the town she and her father had just moved to. The book is all about the connections the girl makes and the lessons she learns by interacting with friends and neighbors independently and on her own. I also loved the movie The Goonies, in which a group of kids take their play a little beyond the street and go on the grandest adventure they ever could have imagined. There are countless more examples of media I grew up experiencing, at the same time that I too was playing in the streets and getting into trouble, that I feel have been lost to current generations. Playing in the streets is no longer celebrated, its not glorified in media like it once was, and so, as Ray touches on, children are missing out on valuable life experiences that should be brought back into life once more.

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