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Playing for All Kinds of Possibilities

The Science section of this morning’s New York Times included this short article on the importance of play:  Playing for All Kinds of Possibilities.

“Studies suggest that free, self-directed play in safe environments enhances resilience, creativity, social understanding, emotional and cognitive control, and resistance to stress, depression, and anxiety.”  Wow.  I need all of that and more.  Could it also help me lose weight?

The article briefly describes some of the recent research and thinking on the role of play and the connections with neuroscience and human evolution. While much of this work remains highly speculative (it’s a tad difficult to test hypotheses about human evolution), there is more certainty about the extent to which humans are innately playful and young children especially so.

I was also intrigued by the researcher’s distinction between “exploratory” thinking and play, which relies less or not at all on prior lessons and biases and which young children are especially good at, versus “exploitative” thinking and problem solving, which leans heavily on prior experience to save time and reduce error, and which is more predominate in adult thinking.

Some of this sounds familiar to the goals for IF’s exploratory discussion processes.  And I’d be interested in further developing our “best practices” to help adults attain such “free, self-directed play in safe environments” that has all those benefits listed above…and helps me lose 20 pounds.