In the past, traditional games were thought to be dying out, few people cared, and the games continued to flourish. In the present day we assume children to have lost the ability to entertain themselves, we become concerned, and are liable, by our concern, to make what is not true a reality. In the long run, nothing extinguishes self-organized play more effectively than does action to promote it. It is not only natural but beneficial that there should be a gulf between the generations in their choice of recreation. Those people are happiest who can most rely on their own resources; and it is to be wondered whether middle-class children in the United States will ever reach maturity ‘whose playtime has become almost as completely organized and supervised as their study’ (Carl Withers). If children's games are tamed and made part of school curricula, if wastelands are turned into playingfields for the benefit of those who conform and ape their elders, if children are given the idea that they cannot enjoy themselves without being provided with the ‘proper’ equipment, we need blame only ourselves when we produce a generation who have lost their dignity, who are ever dissatisfied, and who descend for their sport to the easy excitement of rioting, or pilfering, or vandalism. But to say that children should be allowed this last freedom, to play their own games in their own way, is scarcely to say more than John Locke said almost three centuries ago:

‘Children have as much a Mind to shew that they are free, that their own good Actions come from themselves, that they are absolute and independent, as any of the proudest of your grown Men.’

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