Maureen O'Sullivan: Relearning Education

Maureen O'Sullivan, President and Founder of Mindful Toys, discusses the need for education to utilize the movement of the body as well as the musings of the mind.

What You Do Matters

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Rethinking How to Play

Read an excerpt from the New York Times article "Taking Play Seriously," then reflect on the questions below.

In 2008, Robin Marantz Henig wrote an article for The New York Times Magazine entitled "Taking Play Seriously." Below you will find an excerpt from the article. You can read the entire piece here.

"Parents bobble between a nostalgia-infused yearning for their children to play and fear that time spent playing is time lost to more practical pursuits. Alarming headlines about U.S. students falling behind other countries in science and math, combined with the ever-more-intense competition to get kids into college, make parents rush to sign up their children for piano lessons and test-prep courses instead of just leaving them to improvise on their own; playtime versus resume building.

Discussions about play force us to reckon with our underlying ideas about childhood, sex differences, creativity and success. Do boys play differently than girls? Are children being damaged by staring at computer screens and video games? Are they missing something when fantasy play is populated with characters from Hollywood's imagination and not their own? Most of these issues are too vast to be addressed by a single field of study (let alone magazine article). But the growing science of play does have much to add to the conversation. Armed with research grounded in evolutionary biology and experimental neuroscience, some scientists have shown themselves eager—at times perhaps a little too eager—to promote a scientific argument for play. They have spent the past few decades learning how and why play evolved in animals, generating insights that can inform our understanding of its evolution in humans too. They are studying, from an evolutionary perspective, to what extent play is a luxury that can be dispensed with when there are too many other competing claims on the growing brain, and to what extent it is central to how that brain grows in the first place."

  • When you think of the word "play," what comes to mind? What is your conception of play and its role in your life?
  • Do you conceive of play as something fundamentally opposed to work? Do you find that play enhances work? How do these questions challenge your notion of what it means to be "productive"?
  • What is your favorite way to play? When and from whom did you learn this?
  • Where does the line between work and play dissolve for you?

What You Do Matters

What would you like to do next with Maureen O'Sullivan: Relearning Education?

Take Action

Reconsidering Daily Habits

Take Maureen's advice and consider how to implement more movement into your life, liberating both your body and your mind to live more fully.

  • When throughout your daily routine do you feel jittery, fidgety, or unfocused? Keep those moments in mind.
  • In those moments, first and foremost, try taking five deep breaths. Inhale with your abdomen, not your throat. Wait for a couple seconds before exhaling. Steady yourself and listen to your breathing.
  • If possible, take a walk as a break from the task at hand. Do some basic stretches as well.
  • If walking is not an option, consider purchasing a fidgetstress ball, or tangle. As Maureen mentions in the video, these items help relieve extra energy, allowing the mind to focus on what is most important.
  • Make a plan for how to implement more movement into your life. Stick to it. Find others to join in with you.

What You Do Matters

What would you like to do next with Maureen O'Sullivan: Relearning Education?

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