Leisure Experience and Human Development: A Dialectical Interpretation

Leisure Experience and Human Development: A Dialectical Interpretation

Leisure Experience and Human Development: A Dialectical Interpretation

Leisure Experience and Human Development: A Dialectical Interpretation

Synopsis

Using a life-span development approach, this text explores the relevance of leisure experience (play, sport, happiness, quality of life, and well-being) to optimum human development.

Excerpt

Leisure isn't what it used to be--for me or anyone else.

The interpretation given to it by Plato and Aristotle--an ideal state of being devoted primarily to contemplation, discourse, and self- expression--has been largely replaced with a more utilitarian version. The industrial revolution and the modern era have juxtaposed it with work and redefined it in terms of recovery and consumption. For the ancient Greeks, leisure needed no such justification.

I think I had something of that "unjustified" leisure as a child. My best recollection of it is in the image of seemingly endless summer evenings as a nine-year-old, creating a "dice baseball league" on the front porch. As a middle-aged man with limited free time, few playmates, ailing joints, and a barrage of media-generated possibilities, it is something else again for me. What the future holds I glimpse in my parents and others who have aged more or less successfully, but the world will be a different place if and when I reach that age, and leisure will likely have changed as well.

This book is my attempt to examine the intersection of two fields of study: leisure studies and developmental psychology. I've kept a foot in both fields, being trained in the latter and having spent most of my academic life in the former. While straddling the fence has created its own challenges, it has also afforded me the advantage of an outsider's perspective, with some detachment from the agendas of each field.

At the University of Texas in 1969, I started my doctoral program in educational and developmental psychology while also serving as an assistant coach for the freshman football team. But as the tumultuous sixties were drawing to a close, I began to question the conventionality of sport and the impact it has on those who give it so much time and attention. Opportunities to do research on play and expressive behavior in childhood and adolescence captured my interest, and I cast an increasingly critical eye on the forces that undermine intrinsic motivation and self-expression, whether in classrooms or on playgrounds.

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