Have I "played" this week?
In the book, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Brown and Vaughan, play is defined as a state of mind ... "Play is a state of mind, rather than an activity. Remember the definition of play: an absorbing, apparently purposeless activity that provides enjoyment and a suspension of self-consciousness and sense of time. It is also self-motivating and makes you want to do it again."
So did I play this week? Yes, indeed! Each day I've engaged in some activity (or non-activity) that suspends self-consciousness and time!
I am enjoying reading a book that is not directly about math education - although this book does tie well into a discussion of education in general. For example: "No Child Left Behind is a perfect example. While it is an admirable (and even necessary) goal to make sure that all children attain a certain minimal level of education, the result has often been a system in which students are provided a rote, skills-and-drills approach to education and “nonessential” subjects like art and music are cut. In many school districts, even recess and physical education have been severely reduced or even eliminated. The neuroscience of play has shown that this is the wrong approach, especially considering that students today will face work that requires much more initiative and creativity than the rote work this educational approach was designed to prepare them for. In a sense, they are being prepared for twentieth-century work, assembly-line work, in which workers don’t have to be creative or smart—they just have to be able to put their assigned bolt in the assigned hole."
One of the points that I found most significant is this idea that work and play are not enemies - they are not the opposite of one another. Instead play can change our attitude at work - even affect our productivity. Without play we may lack satisfaction in our work. "The quality that work and play have in common is creativity."
I made a definite connection when I saw myself in one of the authors' eight play personalities. The eight personalities are the joker, kinesthete, explorer, competitor, director, collector, artist/creator, and storyteller. I am an explorer. I do like physical exploring as in visiting new places, window shopping in small towns, but get this! Play can be intellectual exploring and that's me to a T. I enjoy discovering new ideas, new information - especially if it is related to teaching! I knew much of my work was play and it was super to have it affirmed by this author! When I explore new ideas, my creative self kicks in, and I can imagine how the idea might work in a classroom.
I am also a collector ... I especially like to collect ideas. On occasion I've been an artist/creator ... in cooking, gardening, sometimes on paper.
Teaching is science ... it is also architecture and art! I explore, collect, and massage ideas ... and then I construct a framework for learning, artfully orchestrating the interaction between the required curriculum and students' responses. I can get lost in this work ... and start playing for sure!
Addendum ... catch the Ted Talk here!