Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation Paperback – 11 Jul 2013
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'In this highly readable and thought-provoking book, Patrick Bateson and Paul Martin show how play helps animals to find novel solutions and sows the evolutionary seeds for human creativity. They argue that being able to 'break the rules' in a protected environment, which is what play does, generates new ideas (creativity) and new ways of doing things (innovation). By looking at the conditions in which humans are at their most creative, they make a major contribution to what we might do to be even more creative than we are.' Marian Stamp Dawkins, University of Oxford, and co-author of An Introduction to Animal Behaviour (2012)
'This groundbreaking work will inform, engage and please an extensive audience, from play scholars and naturalists to those seeking an improved basis for practical approaches to social questions. The book's originality, common-sense foundation, clear and readable language, and pragmatism are all commendable. The authors, whose landmark studies of behavioral development now span more than a quarter century, take pains to present a readable and direct exposition of their ideas. At the same time, they succeed in drawing bold distinctions when necessary and in forthrightly addressing concerns that span a broad range of social issues. The authors informatively fine-tune previous concepts of play in their successful efforts to link play with the origins of the creative process across a broad biological spectrum. The book's main themes are woven together to produce a work of great general interest.' Robert M. Fagen, author of Animal Play Behavior
'Kittens toy with half-dead prey, dogs chase sticks, kids pretend to be teachers or airline pilots, and their parents revel in painting, gardening and sport. All are examples of play behavior. But whilst it is immediately apparent that play is gratifying, a compelling scientific explanation for why it evolved in the first place has remained elusive. Now Bateson and Martin, leading experts on animal behavior, provide an answer - play functions to generate creativity and stimulate innovation. It is an adaptation to get out of the rut and discover better solutions to life's challenges. With beautifully clear writing and covering diverse literatures, from animal cognition, to child development, to dreaming and psychedelic drugs, Bateson and Martin's text provides a wonderfully readable and much-needed summary of scientific knowledge of play.' Kevin N. Laland, University of St Andrews
'An important book at an important time. Again we are arguing over how best to fit our children to become useful productive citizens. Yes, we want them to be happy too, but the framework must somehow be put in. Play may be seen as a nice extra. Bateson and Martin argue it is much, much more. Reviewing a wide range of studies, beginning with play in some of our animal relatives then to ourselves from infancy to adult life they show how playfulness may be at the very core of creative thinking and action … What can be established is a flexible framework much more adaptable to changing circumstances … this book celebrates the human free spirit and is full of encouraging examples of what can be achieved. I hope it is widely studied in educational circles.' Aubrey Manning, University of Edinburgh, and co-author of An Introduction to Animal Behaviour (2012)
'Play will be to the twenty-first century what work was to the industrial age - our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value. Therefore we need play theory and research, of a multidisciplinary nature, that can deepen and widen our understanding of this most dynamic of human evolved capacities … Bateson and Martin have provided a wonderful resource for play/game advocates in all fields of life. Rooted in extremely solid biological and ethological research, they make subtle and powerful linkages between the mammalian basis of play, and the necessary profusion of social and cultural forms it generates, in ways that will help shape reform in areas diverse as childcare, innovative enterprise and drugs policy. Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation sets a new standard for studies of the power and potential of play.' Pat Kane, author of The Play Ethic
'This highly engaging book provides a novel perspective on the role of play activities that apparently lack seriousness. The clarity of prose and diversity of material covered in Play, Playfulness, Creativity and Innovation persuade the reader to reconsider the importance of play in childhood and beyond.' Gillian R. Brown, Science
'The best complement to the Scottish government's new Play strategy for children. If we want a coming Scots generation brimming with ideas, passions and initiative we must give them room to play throughout their education - and adult lives.' Sunday Herald
What role does playful behaviour take in animal and human development? Unravelling the different meanings of 'play', this book focuses on playful and non-aggressive behaviour in both animals and humans. The authors emphasise its significance for development, before examining the importance of playfulness to creativity and, in turn, to innovation.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
At the heart of the book are their innovative definitions of play, playfulness, creativity and innovation. These are both useful and thought provoking. Why for instance is professional sport so little about playing? Way do playful environments in the workplace promote creativity? In the best spirit of scientific enquiry this isn’t the last word, but a manifesto for future exploration. And, it’s liberating to be not just permitted, but also positively encouraged, to daydream by two luminaries of the biosciences. This book was a gift I was delighted to receive.
If I had one grumble, it would be a predictable one, given my own studies in this area. And that is that the authors had only started to scratch the surface of the vast uncharted waters around dreams, drugs and creativity. Re-framing certain types of recreational drug use as playful activities spawning extraordinary creativity - and in many cases, mind-bending innovation - would, for example, have been a really fascinating addendum to that chapter.
Overall though, highly recommended. The book is written in an open, accessible and thoroughly unpretentious way that makes it a perfect introduction to debates around play and creativity.
A real MUST read for Mr Gove, Elizabeth Truss and everyone parent, teacher, practitioner, the impact play has in chidrens lives and cognitative development
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It is written with reliably academic integrity, dense with carefully researched references and scholarly inferences, carefully worded and crafted, and yet for those of us who have had glimpses of the profound importance of fun and games, play and playfulness, creativity and innovation, reading this book is fun, deeply fun.
For me, probably because I’ve spent at least 45 years contemplating the vicissitudes of play, and especially because I’ve just recently published a book of my own in which the very idea of playful play plays a, dare I say, pivotal role. The book is full of conceptual gifts - too many to itemize in this brief review. Here is a sampling:
On page 5, the authors write: "Play appears to provide its own reward, at least in the short term, by being intrinsically enjoyable. The general presumption has been that the more tangible biological benefits of play usually come later in the individual’s lifetime…” With that simple statement they explain that, contrary to many play apologists, we don’t play because it’s good for us or because we’ll learn from it or change because of it. We play, at heart, because it’s fun. And yet, in retrospect, the authors tell us that those apologists are correct. Play is chock full of tangible benefits - biological, social, physical, intellectual.
Riffle on to page 57 where the authors share with us an almost surgically concise definition of play and playfulness: "Play involves breaking rules. Playful play involves having fun while doing so.”
There’s play, which has so many definitions as to be almost impossible to discuss, and playful play. Play breaks rules (think about it), and playful play is what makes it fun. So the idea of play includes things that may or may not be fun - rule-seeking, rule-breaking, rule-making, rule-changing acts that are core to learning new things, to research, to science, to exploring, risking, daring. But playful play makes it all fun.
"From play," they write, "may emerge a new perspective or cognitive tool that might be used at a later date, possibly in combination with other perspectives or tools, to solve a new challenge. In their different ways, both of these consequences of play are creative.”
The authors go on to give some heartening examples of creative players in the arts and sciences. Players, playful players, whose playfulness redefines art and revises our very way of seeing the universe.
And then there’s the connection between creativity and innovation: “In human behavior,” they write, "creativity refers broadly to generation new ideas, whereas innovation refers to changing the way in which things are done.” Simply by playing playfully.
Even in our dreams, they explain, we are playful. Even in our very dreams.
It’s not a big book or a heavy book or a long book; you can read it in less than a day. But it is so rich with implications, connections, explorations of the power and possibility of playful play that you will read it again and again, and it will be fun.
Many of us think of play as fun. That is true. But Patrick Bateson and Paul Martin take us step by step to understand that underneath that truth of fun play is a serious business. Fortunately the authors write in beautifully simple prose. This is a book we all need.
The very first line in their introduction: “This book is about the role of play and playfulness in creativity and innovation”. Immediately they invite you to know play is essential to our lives and to the lives many other species. The authors are writing about survival itself. There is no jargon, just facts, brilliantly presented. Play is way more than fun.
In a review I cannot capture the beauty or importance of this book. I will try to offer just two of the main points the authors make.
First, play builds motor skills. Secondly, play generates creativity. Each of these two features offers survival. Survival and reproduction are the biological foundations of life. Play helps you and me find ourselves around the world.
I have long admired the work of these two authors, never more than now. I owe them thanks. You owe it to you to read this small volume.
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