"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," runs the old adage. Play is the life of the child. Its instincts are to play almost incessantly. Life is growth. Play is essential to normal growth--of body and brain; of moral and social instincts. Youth requires a stabilizing safety valve and this is supplied by play. Wholesome play provides a safe channel for the impulses of childhood and youth.

Jane Adams assures us that "amusement is stronger than vice and that it alone can stifle the lust for vice." The energies and impulses of life demand expression. If they are not expressed through wholesome channels they will be expressed through unwholesome ones. Vice and crime among the young present a great problem. It must be solved. Our young people must be saved from a life of vice and come. They must be induced to lead wholesome lives. Methods of the past have failed. Those of the present are failing. We need to overhaul our training and educational methods.

There has never been a really constructive effort to make wholesome living attractive. We have always tried to scare young people into doing right. Or else we have attempted to bribe them. It is natural for normal beings to do right. They only need the opportunity. Wholesome amusements will do more to prevent vice than all the sermons ever preached. Youthful activities and instincts should not be suppressed. Give them an opportunity for normal expression. Give the children parks and playgrounds. Encourage them to play. Train them in atheletics. This will develop strong, healthy bodies, alert, active minds, a spirit of fair play and a wholesome attitude towards life.

The energies and instincts of youth must express themselves. They must flow onward to the sea of life. If not suppressed or thwarted, they flow majestically along, turning neither to vice nor to crime. If suppressed they break out here and there in misdeeds and injure society.

Life will express itself. If not one way, then another. It is the duty of parents and educators to see that children are allowed to express themselves normally. Turn their energies into wholesome channels. Do not seek to suppress them. Wholesome amusement is stronger than vice. It is also more healthful than vice. Give the children their play as regularly as their milk or their baths. Let them laugh and sing and play.

Educators generally consider the segregation of industry, thus taking from children their natural copies, as from the educational view point, a grave evil. Those of us now living are too prone to forget that the home was the original work shop. The segregation of industry and its separation from the home is a very modern innovation. The natural environment of the child, until within very recent times, included the occupations of adults. Children learned from the example of their elders. They learned by watching and imitating, by helping. Every girl liked to play at "helping mother." Every boy played "helping father." In their play they imitated the occupations and activities of adult life. Life was a school and play the means of securing an education. Play related to the future life of the child.

The Indian boy played at making bows and arrows. He played at hunting. He played at war. When he reached a definite age he went with his father to be schooled in the "work of a man." But the work was easily learned, for he had already performed it hundreds of times in play. Play is the natural method of education. By it nature trains the mind and the body. It trains the social faculties, and teaches men to adjust themselves to each other and to varying conditions. By play, children learn the rules of the game of life. Through play they learn to work and learn the work they like best. Through play, as one educator says, the child salts away in his spinal marrow his social inheritance and makes it a part of himself.

Modern life has divorced the child from the parental workshop. Play tends to become a series of meaningless games of amusement. The educational value is partly lacking. The child does not see his father work. Often the girl does not see her mother work. This separation of the child from an essential element in his environment has imposed a great strain upon our educational system--a strain that it is not, at present, fitted to bear. The play element in education is too little considered in our public schools. Indeed, in great cities, play has been largely eliminated. A radical change is essential.

"The way to keep boys good is to keep them busy." This expresses a half truth. Boys are always busy--if not at "good" then at mischief. They will be busy, regardless. The way to keep boys good is to give them an opportunity to remain so. Life cannot repudiate itself--it must go right if allowed to. There are several things boys love to do. They love to play. They will play at wholesome games if allowed to--they play at the unwholesome games if denied the others. The point is, they will play, regardless. They love to work. If there is one thing a boy loves to do more than he loves to play, it is work. He likes to do things, to build things. Probably he does not like to do the things his parents or teachers want him to do. This is one of the greatest evils of our present day miscalled educational system. Instead of permitting the child to unfold in a normal manner, it seeks to force him into a prearranged pattern. Instead of allowing him to express himself in those normal channels, through which his inner nature seeks expression, it attempts to force him to express what some one else desires expressed, through channels some one else wants them expressed through.

The child of "spirit" quite naturally rebels. He is perfectly right in rebelling. It is usually his misfortune, however, that when he rebels against this tyrannizing over him by the training machine, his parents and teachers drive him into being a "bad boy." It is not because the boy is inherently evil, but because ignorance attempts to direct life instead of permitting life to direct itself, that such a boy becomes bad.

Boys love to explore. They like to find out for themselves. They explore their environment and, as the environment widens, their exploring work widens. Nothing affords them a better means of development. They love to test their strength--not merely against each other but against everything and every one they contact. This is mother nature's way of teaching them discipline. What they cannot overcome, they learn to let alone. They pit their powers against the powers around them and the outcome is discipline.

All that we have said above about boys applies with equal force and equal truth to girls. Give children an opportunity to express themselves normally and they will do so. But they will express themselves as surely as the waters of the river will flow down to the sea. Dam up the river and its waters will creep out over its banks and lay waste to farm and fireside. Suppress the normal expression of child-life and it will break out and lay waste to society. The point is, child-life will express itself, regardless.