Return to the home page

Article by
Laurie Block Spigel

10 Steps to Successful Homeschooling What's Free or Cheap in NYC? Ask Laurie / RAQ Travels with Laurie Newsletter
Laurie Block Spigel
Classes & Lectures
Photo Gallery           
Poems by Laurie
Contact Laurie
FAQ (testing etc.)
Articles & Reviews       
Books & Resources
Favorite Kids' Books
Language Arts
Math & Economics
Critical Thinking
Social Studies
Foreign Languages
Art & Architecture
Standards, etc.     
Activities & Crafts
Special Ed
Gifted & Talented
About College/Teens
NYC High Schools
Art by Kids
Poems by Kids
Reviews by Kids
Other Sites           

Is Education Work or Play?

More information on Play / Books on Play

“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.”
– Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of Magical Child and other books

Do you remember being scolded for playing? Perhaps you were told to straighten up and sit still, or to stop "being silly" or stop "fooling around" (demeaning terms for play). These are common experiences in a society where grown-ups hardly play at all. It is as if we have forgotten how to play, and play is reserved only for the very young, often only at recess, or only in sports. Adults are mostly game watchers instead of game participants. Yet we remain aware that the spirit of play, which often has no obvious purpose or goal, is a magical ingredient that makes every experience more alive, and makes learning memorable. If play is so elusive for adults, when does it stop for us as children? Does it stop with school?

According to Dr. Stuart Brown (author of Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul ), if children have not played – used their hands to create and build and repair things, activated their minds in imaginative play, and indulged in fun physical pursuits – then they will lack problem-solving skills as adults. In order to be happy, smart, and successful, we need to play! In fact, Dr. Brown asserts that we can improve ourselves at any age, if we just engage in play.

The opposite of play is not work, but depression. Work, when done well, includes play. This applies equally to learning experiences. I collect games for teaching purposes: word games that teach parts of speech or storytelling, creative brainstorming techniques often used for poetry, warm-ups for playwriting, improvisational theater games, and then I make some games up myself. But games are not enough. I also wear a playful attitude; ready to embrace whatever the classroom has to offer. I might sacrifice one of my own games (or any lesson plan) for something that occurs spontaneously, and it is through those marvelously entertaining moments that we often create our best work.

More Information on Play:

Articles by Laurie Block Spigel

Books on Play: