A tweet that speaks volumes to me

The tweet chain unfurled:

As someone who has been teaching children, in some capacity, for 13 years, I beg of you. Please.

Let them have unstructured play time.

Please stop scheduling your children every moment of every day. Please stop encouraging them to schedule themselves. Please stop teaching them to view everything through a lens of educational value or productivity or usefulness.

When your high achieving young human comes to me for education in performing arts I spend so much time trying to unravel the absolute mess of expectations they have placed on themselves, because those expectations have been placed on them.

They are so stressed about getting it wrong or doing it badly or having it look or sound bad that it takes so long to teach them to relax, be themselves, take a chance.

I’ve got 9 year olds with more muscle tension than most adults, just from holding the weight of expectations.

They’ve been taught that they’re being watched and evaluated at every turn and it’s nearly impossible for them to believe me when I say that they can’t do the work if they’re watching for my approval every step of the way.

Recess isn’t enough. They need time to just be humans. Just let them be. Let them watch cartoons or read or draw or color or play or nap or sing or whatever.

Leave them alone. Don’t watch or care about what they’re making or doing. Just let them be.

Don’t give feedback on how it could be better. Don’t tell them they sound great when they sing low but not when they sing high. Don’t tell them they’re better at drawing x than y. Don’t tell them anything. Just let them be and do and breathe.

Buy them the stem toy. But also just some balls, some blocks, some crayons and notebooks with blank pages. Let them chop off their doll’s hair. Let them make up games and worlds and communicate and negotiate those worlds with their friends. Let them mess up and have fun doing it.

I can’t teach them to be better artists if they’re too scared to make art.

I can’t teach them to be better humans if they’re too scared of being human.

You’re not teaching them to be better people. You’re teaching them to be better workers.

You’re crushing them. Stop it.

While you’re at it, let yourself be. Just a little bit.

Do funny voices. Sing along to the music. Dance when you don’t know the moves. Draw something half as well as you think you could. Put down a yoga mat and make up your own style. Laugh with yourself, out loud.

I could tell you all the scientific and pedagogical reasons why this is necessary, and it is necessary, but I’d rather you do it because you deserve to be you.

You deserve to speak and write in your own voice. You deserve laughter. You deserve the entire human experience.

P.S. I’m getting questions and I can’t really see them all because twitter doesn’t load everything right now.

I’ve gotten a few variations on “until what age should this be a thing?”. The answer is: until all ages. Forever. For you too, adults. For everyone. Play.