| December 2, 2013

92Y Wonderplay Conference Reflection
Penpatch (Pew) Phetbuasak
Teachers College, Columbia University

I particularly enjoyed Dr. Stuart Brown’s presentation the most at the 92Y Wonderplay Conference on November 15, 2013. Dr. Brown explains that play is not just joyful and energizing, but it is deeply involved with human developmental and intelligence. Throughout his presentation, he showed various pictures which ranged from humans to animals. Each pictures represents various types of play through different medium. For example, play can happen in the playground, kitchen counter, Arctic Circle, forest, or even in the water. Furthermore, Dr. Brown points out that play stimulates certain emotions to us, mainly provides happiness to our lives. From his presentation, I learned that play is a very primal activity in which it arises before our consciousness or our ability to speak. Dr. Brown touched upon important points on play. Because play allows us to feel joyful, there are reasons why we kept on going back to play over and over again.
First, play has an inherent attraction in which it makes you feel good. Play provides psychological arousal and cures boredom. Second, play provides freedom from time. When we are fully engaged in play, we lose a sense of the passage of time. Then, we experience diminished consciousness of self because we stop worrying about whether we look good or bad, smart or stupid. We stop thinking about the fact that we are thinking. When it comes to imaginative play, we can even be a different self. As one of the pictures showed a grizzly bear and a wolf playing with each other in the snow. Some people might see it as a war, but Dr. Brown states that if we look closely, we would see that the grizzly bear’s eye contact and gestures does not communicate any harmful action. This explains that play enable us to see things in a different light. Last, play provides a continuation desire in which we keep doing it, and the pleasure of the experience drives that desire. Altogether, these properties constitutes play and Dr. Brown asserts that there is a correlation between success and playful activity through his research of animal behavior. He found that play is essential to the development of social skills, adaptability, intelligence, creativity, and ability to solve problems.