The qualities of play

Published by Lori Pickert on June 8, 2009 at 01:38 PM

When productive work is suffused with the qualities of play — that is, with freedom, creativity, and imagination — we experience that work as play. … In our culture today, those people who have the most freedom of choice and opportunity for creativity within their work are most likely to say they enjoy their work and regard it as play.Play Makes Us Human, Freedom to Learn Blog, Psychology Today


Comment by Sarah on June 10, 2009 at 04:42 AM

This reminds me of the excellent book "The Power of Play" by David Elkind. I never interrupt my children's play if I can help it. No matter how "good" the activity I had in mind, creative play is ALWAYS more productive! Great quote, Lori. I'm printing that one out, as a reminder.

Comment by bex on June 10, 2009 at 11:43 AM

This is it!
The 'Mother Load'!
I'm definately blogging about you sister, THANK-YOU! XXxx

Comment by Ellen on June 10, 2009 at 05:45 PM

Great link and quote! Your posts lately have really made me notice people at work. Just today I was watching the man digging a curtain drain for me and I'm sure he loves being in his huge backhoe. Let's hope whatever our kids do, that it can be a joy.

Comment by Amy on June 10, 2009 at 11:31 PM

Just wanted to say I keep telling people they need to read your blog. This is where I come when I need some inspiration or some contact with like-minded people, because that rarely happens in the real world. So thank you. I am glad your "play" includes building and maintaining this space!

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 12, 2009 at 12:55 PM

thank you, sarah — and you make a lovely point — free, creative play is something apart from organized activity.

it makes me think … if children don’t have the opportunity to exercise and build their creative, imaginative play *skills*, how could they utilize them in their work? play is more important than many people realize!

thank you, ellen! :^) a good wish — i will wish it with you. :^)

amy, that’s the best compliment ever. thank you so much. :^)

and it’s true — this blog is play for me! in the doodling around in the studio, building block castles kind of way. :^) thank you again — you made my week!

Comment by Barbara in NC on June 13, 2009 at 03:56 PM

I've been reflecting on this idea quite a bit lately.

It seems like part of the work/play dichotomy includes work=unpleasant/bad, play=fun/good. I was thinking about the fact that I have things that I categorize as "work"--both things I need to do to maintain my life (like the dishes) and the projects/work I have done either for money or as a volunteer. I realized that I wouldn't describe my "work" as fun, and often I would choose play over those activities. But at the same time, the work is fulfilling and (I hope) of some value, and feeds a part of me (including my intellect) that play does not. It gives me a sense of accomplishment and impact, I think. So even though I wouldn't exactly call it fun, it provides an important measure of satisfaction in my life.

Of course, my biggest work is mothering, and that is an intertwined mix of work and play. But always a labor of love, literally.

I was also watching my 4 y.o. at the pool yesterday and was reminded how much *work* is a part of kids' *play*. My kids are often involved in a game in which they are pretending to be people who have a job to do, and they're tackling it with intense industry. So even kids are drawn to joyful activities that give them a sense of accomplishment.

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 14, 2009 at 10:48 AM

absolutely. actually, somewhere on the blog i wrote about this and we talked it over — i think here:

it gives satisfaction and it also fits into a *larger goal* (say, to have a certain kind of home). this is a lesson children can learn and apply to their own choices.

i don’t like the word “fun”, because i think it cheapens the deep enjoyment/satisfaction children can get from doing meaningful work. it’s not about turning learning into a game; it’s about allowing children to own and control at least *part* of the process.

thank you! :^)

Comment by abbie on June 30, 2009 at 06:12 PM

I was just about to mention Power of Play by Elkind, but I noticed a previous comment already did....SUCH a great book on this topic.

I posted two tiny selections from the book back on my old blog...the link is:

Comment by Lori Pickert on June 30, 2009 at 09:42 PM

thank you, abbie! :^)

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