Why are adults shocked by children playing?

It is normal for children to play and use their imagination, why are adults surprised by this?

Recently, the English speaking media are full of stories about a nine-year-old boy who taped together boxes to create an imaginary amusement arcade that made him enough money to pay his college fees.

When this kid created the amusement arcade, an adult came along and through the magic of social networking invited everyone else to visit too.  The kid must have been surprised to find his game attract thousands of paying adults which was filmed by one of the adults.  The video was posted to YouTube, which went viral, causing a media stampede.

The kid is evidently being predicted as the next billionaire, and has been invited to give a business talk to business people.  The story is doing its rounds through blogs like WordPress, and the social media as an example as one blogger put it of “Passion-Based Learning”.

STOP! Reality check ahead…

Children play and use their imagination

What this kid did is normal, ordinary and widespread.  This is what children do, they use their imagination and play.  This kid may go on to be a huge achiever, but what he did is no different from any other kid.  This kid got a lucky break when he met the right adult at the right time.  Nobody can laugh at his fame and new prosperity from what was, and still is, imaginary play that most children do day in and day out.

The adult reaction is disturbing

I find it disturbing that adults and the English media have gone crazy over a child, who like any other, was using his imagination in creative play.  It is nuts to put a child on a pedestal, as a guru to business people, for being a child, doing what children always do.  There is nothing wrong with the child, but a wrongness in the reaction of the adults to that child.

It seems to me that there is a vast gulf of separation between the adult and children, that they have forgotten what it is like to be a child, who play and use their imagination.  Perhaps the adult has been too obsessed in educating play and creativity out of children with some degree of success, that this little fish got through the net and surprised them.

The adult can learn something from this story: that children naturally play and use creativity; that the adult should encourage this rather than destroy it.

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5 responses to “Why are adults shocked by children playing?

  1. There was a British game show called the Crystal Maze which was for adult contestants, but one Christmas the contestants were children. The contrast between adult and child to the games was vastly different:
    Children : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xelVrmwR-6o
    Adult : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnJR8Np1PvU

  2. The fact that the boy had used his imagination was not what surprised so many. It was the degree of planning, development, and creative thinking he exhibited. Children engage in make-believe all the time. Taking their dreams and actually creating them is something much more. The boy in the story, Caine, deserved the attention he got because he did something amazing!

    As a teacher, I would love to see all of my students exhibit the same degree of passion and determination, even in the face of opposition. Remember, his friends at school made fun of him when he told them about his arcade, and adults who walked by always ignored what he had done until the one guy stopped and actually participated. I am glad that thousands of people came and played at Caine’s Arcade! And the money he earned has been put into a college scholarship fund 🙂

    • Hi Alex, thanks for the comment. The boy has influenced a lot of people, though I am of the opinion that all children have equal capacity for imagination and creativity as he does. If this is not being seen in other children then questions need to be asked as to why, for that should be a concern to everyone.

      • I agree wholeheartedly, but I also feel that Caine deserves the attention and praise he received. And if every child in the world did the same thing, I would expect each child to receive the same attention/praise. How different would our world be if the evening news was story after story of young people being amazing, rather than story after story of adults being less-than-stellar?

      • I am delighted that Caine is getting the attention and financial success from this story. I have no concerns about Caine, it is about the overblown reaction (in my opinion) of the adults to Caine. I agree with you that all children should be encouraged to express their creativity and imagination. If the news was full of success stories of young people, that would be a positive outcome instead of the depressive news that gets reported.

        If anything else positive can come from this story, it is that parents, teachers and other decision makers involved with children can keep creativity and imagination alive in children through their school years.

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