What is SLC Reading this Summer? Part 2

“Neuroscientists, biologists, psychologists, social scientists, and researchers from every point of the scientific compass now know that play is a profound biological process. It has evolved over eons in many animal species to promote survival. It shapes the brain and makes animals smarter and more adaptable. In higher animals, it fosters empathy and makes possible complex social groups. For us, play lies at the core of creativity and innovation. Of all animal species, humans are the biggest players of all. We are built to play and built through play.”

It might be time to head back to the classroom, but temperatures are still soaring so it’s summer as far as we’re concerned! Today we’re sharing with you our second feature in “What’s SLC Reading this Summer?” “Play” by Stuart Brown is a professional text that has recently made its home on our “favorites” bookshelf. Brown, a prominent physician, psychiatrist, researcher and founder of the National Institute for Play has written this book in an effort to make sure both children and adults incorporate play into their days. As a reader, it is important to note that Brown “practices what he preaches;” he works out of his office treehouse!

With snazzy chapter titles like, “The opposite of play is not work” and “A world at play,” readers are drawn into the author’s friendly rhetoric and made to feel like one is sitting down to have a warm cup of coffee with the author rather than read yet another professional text. A play enthusiast, Brown was reluctant to define play for a long time because it was so diverse. Sharing the story of his work with a group of Hewlett-Packard engineers he explained how he finally came around to defining the properties of play in an effort to help others understand what play is, and, perhaps more importantly, what it isn’t. He says there are seven properties of play, as follows:

  1. Apparently purposeless (done for its own sake)
  2. Voluntary
  3. Inherent attraction
  4. Freedom from time
  5. Diminished consciousness of self
  6. Improvisational potential
  7. Continuation desire

He goes onto describe each of the properties and why it is crucial in the description of play. He says, “Play is the vital essence of life. It is what makes life lively.” Play is absolutely critical in child development (so he supports us incorporating it into our classrooms – yahoo!), but it is also absolutely critical for adults. All in all, this is a fantastic read.  Add it to your professional bookshelves; it’s taken up permanent residence on ours!

Authored by Jordan Khadam-Hir, Rice University School Literacy & Culture

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