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[xmca] Tom Sawyer on Work vs. play

Reading to my son the other night, I came across this lovely passage on the
distinction between work and play described by Tom Sawyer (or author, Mark
Twain). It describes Tom's discovery following the moment in which he has
tricked another kid to whitewash a fence (a job that he was supposed to do,
but which he tricked someone else into doing it by telling them that they
couldn't do it - a form of double stimulation? or
perhaps ventriloquation?). Seems relevant to questions of education:

"Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had
discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that
in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make
the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher,
like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work
consists of whatever a body is *obliged *to do, and that Play consists of
whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand
why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work,
while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are
wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty
or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs
them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service,
that would turn it into work and then they would resign. "

Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
Sanford I. Berman Post-Doctoral Scholar
Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition
Department of Communication
University of California, San Diego
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