Play; How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul – Book Review

Play; How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul
By Stuart Brown, M.D. with Christopher Vaughan
Published by Avery, a member of Penguin Group Inc.; New York, New York; 2010

Take a moment to “consider what the world would be like without play. It’s not just an absence of games or sports. Life without play is a life without books, without movies, art, music, jokes, dramatic stories. Imagine a world with no flirting, no daydreaming, no comedy, no irony.”

When we try to imagine this possibility, we begin to understand how much play is integrated into our lives. We also start to think about its significance and the importance of fostering its existence.

Play; How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul was released last month. Play was written by Dr. Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute of Play in California. A medical doctor, psychiatrist and clinical researcher, Brown has dedicated his life to the study of play.

While many people think of the subject of ‘play’ as a topic reserved for children, Brown carefully crafts this book to expand the subject. We play, says Brown, because of a biological drive – it is necessary for our survival. He explains how play is both vital to humans from an evolutionary biological perspective and a philosophical standpoint. But don’t let the academic lingo deter you. Play is written in an accessible way by outlining the academic research and combining it with relatable stories.

Parents will be interested to read about the role of play in their child’s development. Brown warns against imposing adult-like schedules or restrictions on children’s play. Childhood is where play is of utmost importance. It is a time where the foundations of play – experiencing a joy of life – are laid. Preventing children from experiencing this joy – let’s say, focusing on winning the soccer game versus an emphasis on being out in the sun with friends to kick a ball around – has a distinct effect on how children learn to perceive the world and live within it. “The self that emerges through play is the core, authentic self.” Children need to have opportunity to create their own play without adult interference.

Parents of teenagers will also be interested to learn about the role of play in adolescence, a time that the Greeks called ‘sophomore’ and which Brown reveals means ‘wise-foolish’. He writes about how teens cope with a whole new growth in brain development. Encouraging play at this age is vital. Through play, teens develop healthy neurological patterns and engage in activities that will “contribute to long-term life-satisfaction.” Again, Brown warns against parents who focus on adult ideas with their teenagers. For example, too much of an emphasis on career planning and entrance to university can limit a teenager’s opportunity to pursue their own interests. Brown explains that an overly rigid pursuit of goals can inhibit growth. He encourages not five or 10 year plans, but nurturing openness to emotional interests then following those leads.

Whether you are a parent or not, Play will inspire any reader to think about how they can play more in their lives. Brown includes a chapter titled, ‘the opposite of play is not work.’ He reminds us that work can also be play, as long as it brings us joy. He writes about the inherent need in all of us for variety and challenge. When we have that in our lives, our work can be play.

Brown also takes a look at the role of play in relationships. He cites a study done by Arthur Aron of State University of New York. Aron examined the role of play in couples. He concluded that play helps people maintain balance in their relationships. A little risk or novelty in play as a couple goes a long way to bringing two people closer together. Making time to try out new things together – to play together – can help couples be happier and better endure challenges to their relationship.

Interestingly, Brown includes a chapter on what some might see as the dark side of play. He points to issues such as gambling, addiction to video games, bullying or the overly competitive player. Brown argues that if we are to acknowledge a dark side to these activities, then they are no longer considered play. Play that is domineering or compulsive is an activity under the “false flag” of play.

Play concludes with a sort of ‘how-to’ chapter. Brown warns that if we are living without joy – through our work, family or otherwise – play can be the conduit to rediscovering that joy. He emphasizes the importance of play to our world and humankind: “play is our culture, in the form of music, drama, novels, dances, celebrations, and festivals. Play shows us our common humanity. In shows us how we can be free within societal structures that allow us to live with others. It is the genesis of innovation, and allows us to deal with an ever-changing world.”

While Brown’s first-person approach felt paternalistic at times, it didn’t over-shadow the value of the content. I did find Play markedly American in its cultural references and sports analogies. But if readers can look past the American orientation, this book will undoubtedly motivate readers to think differently about the topic of play. Play will inspire readers to seek out play in their own lives and develop a belief that play should be elevated as an activity that is more than just a frivolous pursuit.

Play is a wonderful introduction to an interdisciplinary academic topic that is embedded in all lives. The book builds a case for understanding the role of play in the evolution of humans, as an aid to building cohesive communities, and as a tool to finding joy in one’s own life. We all need play in order to lead a ‘good life;’ “play is what allows us to attain a higher level of existence, new levels of mastery, imagination, and culture.” Play will help readers reflect on what the ‘good life’ means to them and how to live it.

Advertisements

32 Responses to “Play; How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul – Book Review”


  1. 1 te August 30, 2015 at 3:21 am

    Hello to all, it’s really a nice for me to go to see this web site, it includes important Information.

  2. 2 photography January 25, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    I think this is among the most significant information for me.
    And i am glad reading your article. But wanna remark on few general
    things, The web site style is perfect, the articles is
    really nice : D. Good job, cheers

  3. 3 Chennai school January 6, 2015 at 2:53 am

    Just want to say your article is as astounding.
    The clearness on your put up is just great and that i could think
    you’re a professional on this subject. Well together with your permission allow me to clutch your
    RSS feed to stay up to date with imminent post.
    Thank you a million and please continue the rewarding work.

  4. 4 fat loss secrets for women August 30, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Very shortly this site will be famous amid all blog visitors,
    due to it’s good posts

  5. 5 Pick 6 Leak System By Kelvin Bailey July 15, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Greetings from California! I’m bored to death
    at work so I decided to check out your website on my iphone during lunch break.
    I enjoy the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home.
    I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my phone ..

    I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, superb site!

  6. 6 RCW Lightning System July 13, 2014 at 8:38 pm

    Thanks for a marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed
    reading it, you happen to be a great author. I will make
    certain to bookmark your blog and will often come back later in life.

    I want to encourage one to continue your great
    posts, have a nice day!

  7. 7 Jasa SEO March 14, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    Hi! I’ve been following your website for some time now and finally got the
    courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Tx!

    Just wanted to say keep up the great work!

  8. 8 radosna i pełna energii. Udowodniłam sobie December 22, 2013 at 2:28 am

    Spożyć kapsułkę najlepiej 30 minut przed głównym
    posiłkiem. Popić co najmniej pół litrem płynu. W czasie stosowania diety pić dużo płynów, takich jak: herbaty ziołowe, zupy warzywne
    lub woda mineralna.
    Unikać produktów zawierających złe węglowodany (produktów o wysokim indeksie
    glikemicznym), takich jak: biała mąka, cukier, gotowana marchewka, kukurydza, ziemniaki i
    alkohol.
    Dbać o spożycie wystarczającej ilości białka, gdyż zbyt mało białka w fazie zrzucania
    masy spowoduje spalanie masy mięśniowej, a nie tłuszczu.

  9. 9 Naked URL September 16, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    Piece of writing writing is also a excitement, if you be acquainted
    with after that you ccan write otherwise it is complex to write.

  10. 10 http://www.neworleansbio.com August 22, 2013 at 3:24 am

    I am sure this piece of writing has touched all the internet users, its really really good piece of writing on building up new web site.

    More: prywatne Oferty Towarzyskie (http://www.neworleansbio.com)

  11. 11 parenting advice August 11, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Greetings! I know this is somewhat off topic but
    I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website?

    I’m getting tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  12. 12 nootropics fda approved August 5, 2013 at 1:29 am

    which are categoricallysourced from plant extracts.
    It’s got trivial unintended effects in use but has gottremendous ingredient to boost the cerebral part of brain. It, actually,streamlines multiple benefits like attentiveness, behavioral consciousness,reminiscence energy and so on.

  13. 13 car loans nj July 11, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Heya! I realize this is sort of off-topic but I had to ask.
    Does operating a well-established website like yours require a
    massive amount work? I am brand new to writing a
    blog but I do write in my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I will be able to share my own experience and views online. Please let me know if you have any ideas or tips for brand new aspiring bloggers. Thankyou!

  14. 14 Wedding planning on a budget July 9, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    Ahaa, its pleasant conversation regarding this article here
    at this weblog, I have read all that, so now me also commenting at this place.

  15. 15 http://odchudzanie-skuteczne.com.pl/ July 3, 2013 at 10:22 am

    I savour, cause I discovered just what I used to be having a look for.
    You have ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you
    man. Have a nice day. Bye

  16. 16 rain July 1, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Therefore, this is especially true if you do not like that which you see.
    This is because anything that deals with acceleration and gaining
    high speeds are removed from the teaaaaam!
    And they worthy the freedom for getting about and thus experience their everyday lives as glasses or even contacts will be comprised of foods that
    are considered pretty rude in alternative nations.
    And, all this can be tried, and if you have a great deal of the Nets.

  17. 17 stationery address labels June 26, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Hey! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to
    give it a look. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Superb blog and amazing style and design.

  18. 18 birthday planning June 15, 2013 at 8:08 am

    These are genuinely wonderful ideas in concerning blogging.
    You have touched some nice things here. Any way keep up wrinting.

  19. 19 baby planning June 7, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    It’s appropriate time to make some plans for the future and it’s time
    to be happy. I have read this post and if I could
    I desire to suggest you few interesting things or suggestions.
    Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article.
    I wish to read even more things about it!

  20. 20 wood balusters toronto May 30, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Our company is in operation taking place , seven a few years
    are generally well regarded between marketplace authorities.
    We’ve got numerous area stage installers plus workers whom pay for us along with put in in their local spots. Many of us supply recurring business such as this some sort of 10% price reduction for each of our outlined rates. We question for you to purchase a minumum of one sequence connected with $500 and up with your 1st buy and each and every obtain after that will get the price reduction.

  21. 21 Buy vigrx Plus May 18, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Pills that work with naturally occurring materials are much
    easier for people to work with than other materials.

    Their benefits are huge and they do not harm your body.
    The more a person shakes a soda can, when it is opened, the bigger it will explode.

  22. 22 best hgh Supplement May 12, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    It’s wonderful that you are getting thoughts from this paragraph as well as from our argument made at this time.

  23. 23 groth hormone May 8, 2013 at 1:03 am

    You really make it seem really easy with your presentation but I to find this matter to be actually one thing that I feel I might by no means understand.
    It kind of feels too complicated and very wide for me.
    I’m looking ahead in your subsequent put up, I will attempt to get the hold of it!

  24. 24 total curve vs triactol April 25, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely
    long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.
    I too am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any helpful hints for newbie blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

  25. 25 grass April 23, 2013 at 10:17 am

    If you are using the wine bottles might be given as a
    thank you to clients it will invoke a sense of
    professionalism about your company. Traditionally for a wedding or any
    special day such as a token of thanks.

  26. 26 http://www.treeguide.org March 27, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Wow, this article is nice, my sister is analyzing these kinds of things, thus I am going to inform her.

  27. 27 Keisha March 17, 2013 at 4:15 am

    My spouse and I stumbled over here from a different website and thought
    I might check things out. I like what I see so now i’m following you. Look forward to going over your web page again.

  28. 28 Dominga February 15, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    Consider running a contest or offering a free product tip sheet
    that accompanies the interview. While the effects of antenna polarization may be interpreted as
    a reduction in the quality of some radio links, some radio designers often make use of this property to tune an antenna to their needs by restricting transmission or reception to signals on a limited number
    of vectors. In much the same way, two-way radio rental offers businesses and individuals substantial
    savings in money, time and resources that equipment ownership never will.

  29. 29 galaxy fandango carson city nv movie times February 12, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely long comment but after I clicked submit
    my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all
    that over again. Regardless, just wanted to say superb blog!

  30. 30 Elena December 25, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    I do not even understand how I stopped up right here, however I believed this submit was great.
    I don’t know who you might be however certainly you’re
    going to a well-known blogger for those who are not already.
    Cheers!


  1. 1 The Busy Life of Ernestine Buckmeister (Book Review) « Tortoise on the Loose Trackback on September 29, 2011 at 6:15 am
  2. 2 Resolving to Play « Tortoise on the Loose Trackback on January 6, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




Enter your email address to subscribe to Tortoise on the Loose and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 42 other followers

Archives

Categories

Inspiration for free-range parenting or simple living

2011 Canadian Weblog Awards

%d bloggers like this: