The Opposite of “Play” is Depression


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Play – its opposite isn’t “work” but “depression.” I heard this in a TED Hour story on  NPR called “How Does Play Shape Our Development?”. Among other findings, Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, learned in his studies of the lives of murderers that they all lacked play in childhood. In interviews of thousands of people to catalog their relationships with play, Brown noted a strong correlation between playful activity and success. Play in both children and adults lights up activity in the frontal lobe, creating connections that help in problem-solving and risk-taking.

I also read a story today that “Science Suggests a Relationship Between Geekiness and Happiness.”  Recently, in February, educators around the world celebrated Global School Play Day. In American society, we understand that the “work” of childhood is primarily to play.

Yet a school on Long Island NY cancelled its annual kindergarten show so kids could keep working to become “college and career ready.” Given all these finding and reactions to standardized testing, perhaps it’s time educators insist on spending more time on what research shows is best for children and less time on excessive testing and test prep. It’s downright depressing.



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