Richard Freeman plays around.
Do we have to justify play?
When I was having dinner with my 4 year old son today, I asked him what was the best part of his day – and he said, I enjoy it when we do ‘playful learning’. This obviously delighted me, but also frustrated me a little – because I always want my children to associate play with pleasure and that being able to play with anything, anyone at anytime should be a life-long pursuit for any balanced human being.
But the language use here at his school – ‘playful learning’ – feels a little bit like a justification of play, planting the seed that the older you get, the more your play needs an outcome. Maybe it does. But show me play that isn’t intrinsically about learning, and show me effective learning that isn’t enhanced by play. No justification is every needed for simply playing.
In The Possibility Club, we look at the world through the lenses of business, culture and education – for me the pillars with which we build the world we want to have – and the blood that runs through all of these is that of community, sustainability, leadership and play.
I play every day. Playing games makes me happy – I play games with myself to test my memory and to motivate me to do things; word-play, role-play and horseplay deepens my relationships with friends. Competition and curiosity in my business behaviours are rooted in a sense of play – any risk is a game, even when deadly serious. The syntax of games runs through every context – let’s make a move, we’ve been dealt a tricky hand, get me that by close of play or you’re not playing ball.
But when was the last time you saw a job description with the expectation that someone is good at playing? Why is gaming not on the national curriculum?
The work hard / play hard division misses the point. Play always.
How do you use play in your mission? We’d love to hear, so email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
You might enjoy our interviews with business, culture and education pioneers who have some unique perspectives on the business – and art – of play. Pete Jenkins is an expert on gamification and the mechanics of games in business; Neil Mullarkey is co-founder of The Comedy Story Players and helps leaders to improvise; Far Rainbow play with all the rules of music; Simon Magnus uses the art of play to tackle tricky issues and tell unusual stories.
Richard Freeman is CEO of always possible and Founder of The Possibility Club.