Dr. Stuart Brown believes play is the most important work humans can do. For young children, it’s especially vital for their growth and development. A medical doctor, psychiatrist, and clinical researcher, Dr. Brown is also the founder of the National Institute for Play, based in Carmel Valley, California. Among the Institute’s goals are to transform education through the adoption of play-based philosophies in schools. Their work is based on scientific research that shows the many benefits of play.
Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
Brown, S., & Vaughn, C. (2009). Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul. New York: Penguin Group Inc.
This book outlines why play is so instrumental in child development, parenting, education, social policy, business innovation and productivity – even for the future of our society. From new research suggesting the direct role of three-dimensional object play in shaping our brains, to animal studies showing the effects of the lack of play, Brown provides a sweeping look at the latest breakthroughs in our understanding of the importance of play behavior.
The National Institute for Play
The National Institute for Play – of note in this website is the seven patterns of play, as determined by Dr. Stuart Brown and his colleagues. These patterns include attunement play (also known as serve and return, observed in the interactions between mother and baby), body and movement play, object play, imaginative play, social play (which includes friendship and belonging and rough and tumble play), storytelling and narrative play, and transformative-integrative play. The site also has a section devoted to various research studies on play.
The Pedagogy of Play and the Role of Technology in Learning
In his article The Pedagogy of Play and the Role of Technology in Learning, author and middle school teacher Aran Levasseur refers to Dr. Brown’s views of play in a technological context. He says the road to today’s digital environment hasn’t been smooth, or in some cases, readily adopted, but by adopting a schema of play, technologies such as the Apple iPad can become effective learning tools.
Play is More Than Fun, it’s Vital
Dr. Brown on TED Talk: Play is More Than Fun, it’s Vital. This speech, filmed at the 2008 Art Center Design Conference, outlines play as experienced by children, adults and animals. He says games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun, they’re foundational to a successful adulthood.