Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dr Peter Gray - The Importance of Play in a Student's Life

Dr Peter Gray is a psychology professor from Boston University. He writes a popular blog on the Psychology Today website called, ‘Freedom to Learn’. He writes and speaks about the importance of play, curiosity and exploration in the lives of little children.
It was quite a learning adventure studying the archives of this blog on the importance of play in a child’s life. Here are some insights.

In his blogpost titled, ‘Value of Play IV: The Definition of Play’ he describes how play provides a state of mind in both adults and children that promotes high level reasoning, insightful problem solving and all sorts of creative endeavors. In this blogpost he describes five characteristics that most people identify play with. I have listed down the five characteristics here and added a small commentary to each one of them. 

1.  Play is self-chosen and self directed. Players are always free to quit -  The decision to play the game is always mine and I am free to leave when I want. So as an individual that is part of the game, I have to play my role and take personal responsibility to make things work. 

2.  Play is activity in which means are more valued than endsWhen you look at something as work, you focus on the end result or what you gain out of doing something. But when you look at something as play, it is the process that matters. The process is where the real joy lies. So we must find a way to make work play. 

3.  Play is guided by mental rules When I played with my friends in the neighborhood playground as a child, we always had a set of mental rules that we were sub consciously aware of. For instance we could not hurt another player during play or we must not kick the ball into the window of the house near the ground. 

4.  Play is non-literal, imaginative, and marked off in some way from reality – For example, when I played with my set of toy soldiers as a little boy, the table and blankets in my house would become jungles and homes for the toys. But as a child I knew they were table and blankets, but I would let my imagination run wild. This freedom of thinking with play helped develop my curiosity for the world around me.

5.  Play involves an active, alert but non stressed frame of mind – Dr Peter Gray mentions in one of his blogposts on Psychology Today, how the mental state of play is flow. Mihaly Csikmentsayi a positive psychologist described Flow in a book he wrote by the same name as such: ‘Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energize focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of activity. Let that description sink in and now think about a situation where you make work, like play for yourself. Now imagine being in that state of flow for every second of the rest of your life.


Dr Peter Gray on the Importance of Play in Education
1. Conference on Alternatives to Compulsory Education via infospectacle
2. Role of Play in the Development of Social and Emotional Competence via AncestryFoundation
3. Free to Learn via JSFreeSchool 
     Blog - Freedom to Learn - Psychology Today - 60+ posts  
     Book - Free to Learn - Amazon

Let us learn together 
Tweet @AbhishekShetty_

No comments:

Post a Comment