Work is play; play is work

Thanks to a tweet from Hugh MacLeod (who tweets a lot), I read JP’s recent post on play, in which he riffs on an insight Michael Schrage had in Serious Play.

This complex chain of stimuli reminded me of a great passage I’d just read in Turning Learning Right Side Up, by my erstwhile prof Russ Ackoff and Dan Greenberg, one of the founders of the Sudbury Valley School. Here they quote co-founder Mimsy Sadofsky describing SVS (p. 161, italics mine):

We have no curriculum and place no value on one pursuit over another. The reason that we are secure in feeling this way is that we constantly see that people play more and more sophisticated “games,” explore more and more deeply, that they constantly expand their knowledge of the world, and their ability to handle themselves in it.

Children who play constantly do not draw an artificial line between work and play. In fact, you could say that they are working constantly if you did not see the joy in the place, a joy most usually identified with the pursuit of avocations.

We’ve drawn many artificial lines in our culture (yes, the “we” and “our” are broad and ambiguous there). We separate work and play, for-profits and non-profits, mind and body (thanks Descartes!), our work decisions from our private morals and more.

Mostly, these lines need to go away.


About Jerry Michalski

Lateral thinker, itinerant troublemaker, convener, idea mill.
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