Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Importance of Play

Dr. Stuart Brown, in his book, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, tells the story about how the Jet Propulsion Laboratory realized that, although they were hiring the best and brightest college graduates, it was hiring the wrong kind of people. Something had changed in the kind of people that came to work at JPL.

“The JPL managers went back to look at their own retiring engineers and ... found that in their youth, their older, problem-solving employees had taken apart clocks to see how they worked, or made soapbox derby racers, or built hi-fi stereos, or fixed appliances. The young engineering school graduates who had also done these things, who had played with their hands, were adept at the kinds of problem solving that management sought.

Those who hadnʻt, generally were not. From that point on, JPL made questions about applicantsʻ youthful projects and play a standard part of job interviews. Through research the JPL managers discovered that there is a kind of magic in play.”

We must try to bring this kind of magic into schools, hard as it may be. Formal education has become such a serious business, defined as success at abstract thinking and high-stakes testing, that thereʼs no time and no context for play. If play is what you do outside school, then that is where the real learning will take place and thatʼs where innovation and creativity will be found.

The rigid academic system is short-changing all students, even though an elite few seem to do well by academic standards. However, there is increasing skepticism that even those who succeed academically are not the kind of creative, innovative thinkers and doers that we need. -Makerspace Playbook

Important to remember what can be learned from play.