“Americans Have An Incapacity For Leisure,” Says Percival Chubb

“Americans, young and old, rich and poor, have an incapacity for leisure. They know how to kill time, but they don’t know how to spend it profitably; they don’t know what fruitful leisure is. I don’t think much can be done for the elder generation. The only hope is in the proper education of the young.”

This is the gist of an interview given by Percival Chubb of the Society of Ethical Culture to a representative of The Times

“It has been said that if you want to understand a people, see them at play. A man is free to play as he pleases. He is constrained at work and it is not then fair to judge him.

“See the New Yorker at play on New Year’s Eve — an orgy of gluttony and noise. See him at play on the Fourth of July — an orgy of noise. See him at Coney Island, the favorite playground of the great metropolis — an orgy of cheap glitter and thrills.

“He may be an excellent mechanic, a shrewd, capable business or professional man; but when it comes to playtime, there is nothing within himself, and he must rely upon feather-ticklers and merry-go-rounds. Mentally, he is excellently equipped with tools for his work, but he is empty of playthings. He has the means of a livelihood but not the means of life.


“A child is not given time to be a child nowadays; parents try to jump them into maturity. One of the popular ideals of the day is the smart kid. He is a result of the current method of treating youngsters as adults. He is pert, irreferent, no good. His apotheosis is the street gamin.

“Not knowing how to play themselves, parents do not realize the necessity of making their children play. A child should be kept childish, and his interest kept in childlike things.

“his development should be slow rather than rapid. The outcome of the latter is a narrow development that squeezes out all delight in beauty, all capacity for leisure, all spirit for composure. But it leaves nerves and neurotic tendencies.”

Man, this guy would hate Angry Birds.

“AMERICANS HAVE AN INCAPACITY FOR LEISURE,” SAYS PERCIVAL CHUBB: The Only Way to Remedy It, According to This Well-Known Ethical Culturist, Is to Educate the Young to Know What to Do with Their Spare Time. (PDF)

From March 12, 1911

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