The Discovery of the Child - Nature in Education
"It would be premature to say:'Set the children free, let them have
fair play, let them run out when it is raining, take off their shoes
when they find pools of water, and when the grass of the meadows is
damp with dew let them run about with bare feet and trample on it;
let them shout and laugh when the sun wakes them up in the morning,
as it wakes up every other living creature which divides its day
between waking and sleeping.'
Instead of that, we ask ourselves anxiously how we can make the children sleep
after daybreak, and how we can train them not to take off their shoes and not to
wander over the fields. When, having been kept in restraint by us, having been
degraded and irritated by the prison, the child kills insects or little harmless
animals, it seems to us natural; we do not realise that this mind has become
estranged from Nature. What we are really asking from our babies is that they
adapt themselves to prison without bothering us.
The muscular energy of the children, of even the smallest, is
greater than we imagine, but in order that this is revealed to us
must have free play."