What Happened to “Go Play”?
Neuroscientists, developmental biologists, psychologists, social
scientists, and researchers from every point of the scientific compass
now know that play is a profound biological process. It has evolved
over eons in many animal species to promote survival. It shapes the
brain and makes animals smarter and more adaptable. In higher ani-
mals, it fosters empathy and makes possible complex social groups.
For us, play lies at the core of creativity and innovation.
—Stuart Brown with Christopher Vaughan, Play: How It Shapes
the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
“Jeff, can I eat snack later? School was tough today, and I need to play
for a while before I eat.”
P —Jack, age five, after his third day of kindergarten
Play is not frivolous. It is not a luxury. It is not something to fit in after
completing all the important stuff. Play is the important stuff. Play is
a drive, a need, a brain-building must-do. It hardwires us as much as it
centers us. It feeds our intellect as much as our imagination. It builds
knowledge as much as empathy. It connects neurons, and it connects
ideas. We could not be fully human without it. Yet good-intentioned
people with legitimate social concerns are rushing children through