An analysis of Dr. Stuart Brown’s Book Play: How It shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul
Very often when we hear the word-play we frequently associate it with juvenile behaviours and activities of children; the adults caught are usually stereotyped as silly. However, what we are unaware of is that play is not only exclusive to the young ones rather it is highly significant in influencing the lives of most, if not all living creatures.
In his book, “Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul”, Dr. Stuart Brown discusses the importance of play in human development through the enhancement of one’s analytical skills in dealing with problems at work or at home, paving ways for creativity and imagination that may contribute to one’s daily activities for the betterment of the future and may even eradicate dullness felt with the gradual lost of meaning and happiness through the improvement of one’s outlook in life.
The play attitude of human beings is highly connected to that of our ape brothers though the purpose of such acts may not be completely similar.
Play in the human race has been associated with an ability of an individual to interact with another person, group, object or himself which is directly proportional to how he thrives in his life, play also triggers creativity and innovation, summing up the importance of play in the development of human life in general.
Play in human behaviour had been evident many millennia before concrete studies were made on the subject. In their findings archaeologist associate play with that of Ethnologists’ theory on the play of the closest species, the apes (De Waal 2009).
However, though play in apes is quite similar to that of humans such as laughing, tickling and wrestling, the purpose of such may differ in a sense that animals simply play for the purpose of teasing, being friendly or pretend while for human beings, play may also be more complex than that. Human beings’ complex play depends on finding a deeper meaning in life, creativity, imagination or innovating himself which other species fail to exhibit for the simplicity of their brains compared to that of complex human minds.
Play is mostly about interaction whether be that with another being or a group of beings, or objects. Studies show that individuals who had a secure attached relationships with those closest to them, are more likely to thrive in times of crisis than those who lack emotional adoration of love and care. In his seminar, Stuart Brown cited an example on the experiment conducted on two groups of mice. One group was left alone to play with each other while another one was stopped in their activity to play by the experimenters.
The study was concluded when the two pairs of mice were taken into a cat inhabited environment where all mice went into hiding. Later it was found out that the first group of mice, the ones that were allowed to play, went out of their hiding place to explore, while the second group, which activity of play was interfered, stayed in their hiding place and die (Brown, 2008). The research suggested that humans have the same tendency to fail in thriving if they are deprived of play.
The importance of play is not only limited to children but also highly advisable to adults in which continuous development is needed in the quality of life in terms of a balance of problem solving skills and intellect coupled by sound emotional upbringing in any environment an individual is concerned or a part of.
Creativity is highly regarded in Brown’s theory that play creates new and innovative ideas. In a modern world creative and revolutionary thinkers are popping out from all corners of the globe. Tim Brown emphasizes the importance of the relationship of play in the development of a person’s creative mind (Brown, 2008).
He conducted a few exercises during his seminar and pointed out that play for adults is a ridicules act. He noted that adults are afraid to share their bold ideas to their peers often finding it silly by laughing as compared to children who are very proud to share their perception of things. When people become adults they begin to be conscious of what others might think of them, losing their sense of freedom (Brown, 2008).
In order for individuals to pour their creative juices out, trust is a very important factor to consider. In gaining trust, Brown pointed out that building a friendship is one aspect and that to gain such relationship people are contended in an act of play releasing tension, making individuals feel relax which is also a factor in the unleasing of creativity (Brown, 2008).
Stuart Brown through his book supported Tim Brown’s idea by identifying his findings on how JPL’s younger engineers were having problems in finding solutions to their cases as compared to the older ones. Through the investigation conducted by the company, it was found out that the older engineers were more oriented in playing with their hands during their younger years compared to the newly hired ones from top universities (Brown, 2009).
Play is one of the most important aspects in the development of creative ideas and innovation on our world today. It is important for people to play for the sake of developing a sense of exploring new things and ideas leading to creative thinking that may materialize in innovative outcomes (De Wall, 2009).
Academic systems in the past had always been biased in terms of their students. Conservatives gave priority by recognizing those who excel in math and sciences more and failing to recognize those who are in the music and arts.
Ken Robinson pointed out that conservative schooling systems kill creativities among their students by failing to recognize them as an asset and dismissing them as an illness needed to be cured (Robinson, 2006). Stuart Brown highlighted the story of the great choreographer Gillian Lynne, who is famous for her works in the musicals Cats and Phantom of the Opera.
Lynne, as a child had difficulty in paying attention to her teachers thus the school saw her as mentally ill and was suggested to take drugs to cure her sickness (Brown 2009). It was in this light that her mother together with a specialist discovered that Lynne was a unique child whose calling is in dancing thus the story of one of the most talented individuals who walked the earth today was born through that single act of letting the child play in the form of dancing.
Dr. Stuart Brown’s book is about understanding the role of play and the way it affected our lives in the past, present and future. The book presents and examines the act of playing in its core in shaping people’s behaviour, outlook, thinking and reaction in life. Play is not only exclusive to children but is very important to adults in order to release the tensions and weights of the world they had been carrying, enabling them to revive what they had found as children.
Brown, S. (2009). Play Play: How It shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul. New York: Penguin Publishing Inc.
De Wall, F. (September 2009). Bodies in Sync: Contagious Laughter, Yawns, and moods offer insight into empathy’s origins. Retrieved from http://www.naturalhistorymag.com/features/251555/sept
Brown, S. (2008, May) . Play is More than Fun [Video Recording]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/stuart_brown_says_play_is_more_than_fun_it_s_vital.html
Brown, T. (2008, May). Creativity and Play [Video Recording]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_on_creativity_and_play.html
Robinson, K. (2006, Feb). School Kill Creativity [Video Recording]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html