“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold” Joseph Chilton Pearce
The first time I read this I said ” wow that is cool” and I promptly went on to my lists of tasks while also half wondering how I could use this quote somewhere. That somewhere is here and now in this moment I am trying to take it in. Wow, does he really mean this? Read it again: “Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold”
I love play. I believe learning has everything to do with play. I abhor “teaching” young children to read and write and do math (in an abstract way). Children need to be encouraged to play, explore, invent, wonder, create and interact with the environment, animals and other humans. Their play will take them to a desire to read and other abstractions eventually (I have seen it). And adults? Oh yes, they need to play too, so I try to bring a bit of play into all my teaching. Yet have I played much this week? Okay, have I played at all?
Adult play is often word-y, jokes, puns, teasing, or the adult play of competition and then the adult play of mindless visual screen time. I’m talking PLAY, the kind that moves your body, maybe rough and tumble or fluid and slow whatever creates the perfect form for the imaginative unfolding. The kind of play that surprises you because you don’t know what it will be about until you do it, the kind of play that has no goals or product or requirements. That is rejuvenating play, that is play that helps develop our highest intelligence.
“Whenever we engage in new behavior the brain remodels itself” says Michael Merzenich of NIMH. Play is all about novelty, spontaneity; couple that with full focused attention and interest and neural connections grow and flourish. I have to say I didn’t fully do my homework, I didn’t find the context in which Pearce stated this, and I would like to know, but meanwhile I’m just going to savor it. “Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” And I promise myself a block of playtime this evening. You can call me on it and I’ll let you know what fun and surprises unfolded.