The Power of Play

In last week’s session on “Embodiment and the Classroom,” I briefly spoke about the lifelong importance of play after we had done two exercises that incorporated elements of play. Play is often used in K-12 education, yet often goes unconsidered and neglected in higher education. However, the benefits of play are not limited to those under the age of 18.

I just came across this article by philosopher Stephen T. Asma in the New York Times Opinionator pages.

He writes: “The stakes for play are higher than we think. Play is a way of being that resists the instrumental, expedient mode of existence. In play, we do not measure ourselves in terms of tangible productivity (extrinsic value), but instead, our physical and mental lives have intrinsic value of their own. It provides the source from which other extrinsic goods flow and eventually return.

When we see an activity like music as merely a “key to success,” we shortchange it and ourselves. Playing a musical instrument is both the pursuit of fulfillment and the very thing itself (the actualizing of potential). Playing, or even listening, in this case, is a kind of unique, embodied contemplation that can feed both the mind and the body.”

I think play is central to what are doing in the classroom. Play can help increase motivation and instill a growth-mindset in students and instructors alike.

Would love to hear your thoughts or ways that you have incorporated play into your classes!


The Futures Initiative
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10016-4309