Play makes the World the World makes Play

To me play seems to be a self-full-filling prophecy 

By playing we become our potential to play and so to notice and create what might be in ourselves and in everything we encounter. Through myriad players - pulsing jellyfish, dancing children, architects - play is constantly fulfilling its limitless manifestations. 

Many have tried to define play, to say what it is and what it isn't - but when people try and pin it down, play slips through our fingers because our fingers are no longer playful. 

Yet when we encounter play we recognise it and in that recognition we have the greatest access to understanding play. It seems that we sense play because we play -  playing develops our play-sense. 

If we as adults respond to children's play with awe, we are perhaps at our most open to what it might be, and so we may let it seep into us and change us and our understanding of play. For this to happen we need to be comfortable with being altered by play, we need to be used to interacting with the world in a state of ..........


  - when we are filled with play we hold the most space for play to fill -

- play full fills itself by making space for what might be -

I find that after I have been in the presence of a playing child the world seems a more marvellous, wonder filled place. I also find that if I have been creating something myself, or even playing around with an idea I am then more perceptive of other's playing. 

Such interaction between personal and professional experiences of play seems to be commonplace...

A university professor told me of a student whose reflective practice logs were full of the details of her own magical encounters - a twirling leaf, light reflected on snow - as she walked to and from her place of work as a therapeutic playworker

Keats' description of 'negative capability' has been adopted by the Playwork profession as an explanation of our stance towards the playing child. Katherine Fisher who first appropriated and presented these words in relation to her own practice, evidently encountered and resonated with Keats poetic writing. 

Howard Nemerov, twice Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, acknowledges his five year old son as the originator of the phrase "In the first country of places there are no requests" with which Nemerov titled an essay. 

Our capacity to perceive play, both depends on and alters the playing that runs through us. In valuing and sharing our play filled moments we are trusting and developing the sense that we draw on in our play orientated practice. Furthermore we are evidencing the alteration which encountering playing children brings about in our comprehension of the world. 

I have always used notebooks to hold my playful musings. As an encouragement to others to trust, value and draw use from their heartfelt creative response to play in the world I have started sharing notebook extracts here