If you’ve been to the webpage, read your email, looked at Facebook or been on campus you will know that the FFR (Fall Festival Reimagined) wing of the PA is actively recruiting older students and parents to be Play Agents for the big event on Saturday, November 19th.
Readers of this blog will know that I’m a card-carrying believer in the power of play as key intellectual activity.
Sometimes it has another name – tinkering, making, doing, thinking, creating, engaging etc. But at heart it’s all a kind of play.And play matters.
It’s play that allows us the grit to keep us sticking with whatever it is we need to do. It’s play that puts us into direct connection with what we already know and what we need to learn next. It’s play that keeps us on the edge of what we don’t know and it’s play that puts us into relationship with others.
And it’s deadly serious intellectual stuff.
Play is where imagination, invention, innovation, connection and discovery collide. Play is at the very core of learning.
Play is when we are in that state that psychologist Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow and it’s what makes us happy.
For a little confirmation read this extract from Richard Feynman – Nobel Prize winner for Physics:
But when it came time to do some research. I couldn’t get to work. I was a little tired; I was not interested; I couldn’t do research! …And then I thought to myself, “You know, what they think of you is so fantastic, it’s impossible to live up to it. You have no responsibility to live up to it!”…Then I had another thought; Physics disgusts me a little bit now, but I used to enjoy doing physics. Why did I enjoy it? I used to play with it. I used to do whatever I felt like doing – it didn’t have to do with whether it was important for the development of nuclear physics…So I get this new attitude … I’m going to play with physics, whenever I want to, without worrying about any importance whatsoever.Within a week I was in the cafeteria and some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air. …I had nothing to do, so I start to figure out the motion of the rotating plate…And before I knew it (it was a very short time) I was “playing” – working, really – with the same old problem that I loved so much, that I had stopped working on when I went to Los Alamos; my thesis-type problems; all those old-fashioned wonderful things.It was effortless. It was easy to play with these things. It was like uncorking a bottle: Everything flowed out effortlessly. …There was no importance to what I was doing, but ultimately there was. The diagrams and the whole business that I got the Nobel Prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.
The creator of kindergarten – Friedrich Froebel – said that play was the work of the child.
The moment we are off the mechanical treadmill it is also the work of all of us. If he were around now he might say something like: ” Play is not just for five year-olds anymore. In the innovation age that replaced the era of information, play is the work of us all.”
But he would say it better and he would be founding a movement as powerful, creative and life changing as a play-fueled, learning-filled kindergarten.
I think the truth is – these PA FFR organizers are on to something. This play stuff is not just for kids any more. And anyway, they seem to be having way too much fun. Come join in. Find your way to play.
There’s video proof of the fun right here.