The Importance of Play and the Meaning We Give to Creativity

In my blog post ‘The Value of Creativity’, which I’ve written in the first term, I have expressed my thoughts and feelings about the importance of creativity and how it is not valued in the education system. However, on Friday 20th 2017, in our first Conducting Collaborative Creativity (CCC) class of this term I saw the light at the end of the tunnel, in terms of creativity.

Actually, since the beginning of MACE I’ve been realising that creativity is valued in this masters, which has made feel that education does not have to be something boring that students should try to avoid or be scared of. Classes should be a place to Play. Yeah, you heard me right. A class should be a place, where, with the encouragement of teachers, students have the opportunity to think freely, relax and let their creativity flow from their bodies. Classes should be places where new ideas are created, discussed and where problems are explored to find the best possible solutions.

Now, back to the light at the end of the tunnel. That light was the realisation that education institutions have started to acknowledge the importance of creativity. As an interesting example, in the first CCC class Janja showed us a an article from the Wired magazine, which was published on Wednesday (18th January). The title read: “Love Lego? The University of Cambridge is looking for a ‘professor of play’”. This article was about Cambridge University looking for a professor who would be an “outstanding scholar in the field of educational or developmental psychology in early years development – with a focus on working in the field of play and playfulness” (Woollaston, 2017).

This is exactly what I will be writing about in this post.

When we entered the classroom on Friday, the tables had some materials on it. You know what they were? LEGO! We were going to play with Lego that day, and we were surprised and happy as a kid. This was going to be fun! But of course, it is important not to forget that even playing with Lego had hidden meanings behind it, which we would realize as we went on with the exercises.

The first Lego exercise was to create a duck. And we all had different ways of doing it. For some of us, duck had an orange beak but maybe some thought the shape of the body was more important, or maybe for some, the movement of the duck was essential.

For me, the duck had to have an orange beak.

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But making it was not enough, as every human being, our duck had to have a story. An integral part of Design Thinking too, stories create a connection between yourself and your audience through empathy and emotion. It gives your audience something to relate to and inspires them in different ways (TD4ed). So, each of our ducks had a story and we all shared it with the class.

 

The second exercise was to make Legos so that it represented our most creative day. We all came up with such different Lego shapes and colours. But do you know what was the most important difference? Every Lego we created had different meanings attached to it. While for some, the most creative day was creating something new; for others, it was having an organized room. From my perspective and imagination, my most creative day looked like this:

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Through these Lego pieces, I wanted to show that my most creative day would have these features:

  • Organised bricks – Being organized and productive
  • Smiley face – Being happy, relaxed
  • Bricks – Having a ‘colorful’ day
  • The white ‘wing’ – feeling like a bird – which would represent being confident and feeling free of all my concerns

 

Yes, for me to feel creative that day, I would have to feel good and productive!

The third exercise was to make Legos which would represent our non-creative day and mine looked really bad – it was not colourful and the shape looked like a graph going down, which represented decreasing happiness and productivity.

We did some more exercises and I believe none of us could get enough of playing. We all felt like time flew!

There were a lot of things we learned from this lesson, but one that stuck with me is that, as Derek Sivers once said in one of his TED talks, we give meaning to things. In his talk, he was talking about life, but we can apply this to creativity as well. In the Conducting Collaborative Creativity class, we saw that each of us had different way of experiencing creativity, but we all called it creativity. For example, when Janja asked us which entity we  thought was the most creative one according to us, everybody said different things. For example, I said Virgin Group, because through this entity, people saw that there were many possibilities of creating different companies and that it was possible to go into such different sectors!

I would also like to reflect on Dr. Stuart Brown’s (who has been trained in general and internal medicine, psychiatry and clinical research) TED Talk on the importance of Play. His explanation of Play was fascinating! He was saying how Play, which are voluntary activities that bring joy, is integral to survival; and that the basis of human trust is created through Play signals. It was also very interesting when he pointed out that people who didn’t get to experience Play in their childhood, experienced problems in their futures. Also he talked about how we should all think about our Play history and reflect on our first childhood memory of Play, and that we can understand a lot about how we are today.

Long story short, playing with Lego was a great experience that opened our eyes and minds, gave us perspective, made us realise that having fun in class is alright, and that creativity is subjective. After I watched Dr. Stuart Brown’s TED Talk, I got more and more inspired about the importance of Play and I believe reading more about it will be really exciting for me.

Great start to the term!

 

R.

 

 

Resources

1) Woollaston, V. (2017) Available at: http://www.wired.co.uk/article/lego-professor-university-of-cambridge (Accessed 22 January 2017).

2) TD4ed, Available at: http://td4ed.businessinnovationfactory.com/curriculum/build-team/importance-storytelling (Accessed 22 January 2017).

3) Sivers, D. (2012) Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6aTaoGWjMvI (Accessed 22 January 2017).

4) Brown, S. (2008) Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/stuart_brown_says_play_is_more_than_fun_it_s_vital#t-1578456  (Accessed 22 January 2017).

 

 

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