Brief Thoughts on Play
"playfulness is ... not only to be enjoyed but to be accorded high
value for its fundamental role in the success of all organisms, including humans."
-- from Variability in Brain Function and Behavior
Serendip (with its Playground) is not the only one to have thought about play and its signficance. Provided below is an evolving
list of brief quotations about play. Updated summer 2005 by Kate Shiner, as part of the activities of the Serendip/SciSoc 2005 working group. Suggested
additions to this list are welcome.
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity.
The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Humanity has advanced, when it has advanced,
not because it has been sober,
responsible, and cautious, but because it has been playful, rebellious, and
No behavioral concept has proven more ill-defined, elusive, controversial,
and even unfashionable.
If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.
Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one
You've achieved success in your field when you don't know whether what
you're doing is work or play.
You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
To play it safe is not to play.
want creative workers, give them enough time to play.
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing
on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble
or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
If life doesn't offer a game worth playing, then invent a new one.
Anthony J. D'Angelo
The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.
Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake.
Savielly Grigorievitcyh Tartakower
Blaise Pascal used to mark with charcoal the walls of
his playroom, seeking a means of making a circle perfectly round and a triangle
whose sides and angle were
all equal. He discovered these things for himself
and then began to seek the relationship which existed between them. He did not
know any mathematical terms and so he made up his own. Using these names he
made axioms and finally developed perfect demonstrations, until he had come
to the thirty-second proposition of Euclid.
C. M. Cox
The game of life is not so much in holding a good hand as playing a poor hand well.
H. T. Leslie
The Paleolithic hunters who painted the unsurpassed animal murals on the ceiling of the cave
at Altamira had only rudimentary tools. Art is older than production for use,
and play older than work. Man was shaped less by what he had to do than by what
he did in playful moments. It is the child in man that is the source of his
uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the
unfolding of his capacities.
Innately, children seem to have little true realistic anxiety. They will run along the brink of water,
climb on the window sill, play with sharp objects and with fire, in short, do
everything that is bound to damage them and to worry those in charge of them,
that is wholly the result of education; for they cannot be allowed to make the
instructive experiences themselves.