Our culture faces an extremely critical problem: how to use the ever-increasing hours of leisure time. In his book Philosophy of Recreation and Leisure, Jay B. Nash goes so far as to say, “To use leisure intelligently and profitably is a final test of civilization.”
History, obviously, cannot help us much with this problem, for until this century only a few who were wealthy had leisure time. But now within one generation the workday of almost everyone has shrunk from twelve and sixteen hours to eight, seven, or even fewer.
The homemaker, too, knows greater freedom. Mechanical conveniences, by decreasing the hours once required for ironing, cooking, cleaning, and so on, provide a free use of time of which her ancestors could never have dreamed. What hours she does spend in her work are made pleasant by radio, hi-fi, and even television.
This problem of leisure time confronts children and young people also. The urban rather than rural society in which we now live requires few chores of children. Further, child labor laws make it impossible for young people to get jobs that fill their time constructively. Sometimes a young person must wait until the early twenties to work. With a great deal of leisure and few responsibilities, young people—like their elders—face the critical test of free time.
Other factors besides the Industrial Revolution have made free time available to us. Advances in medical science have increased man’s life span about a third. There is even talk about doubling life expectancy within this century. Moreover, the retirement age is steadily being lowered. Retirement is no longer something only for the rich or for those in their sixties; employers are imposing it even on those in their forties. After completing ...1
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