For hunter-gatherer societies work IS play

In the fifth in a series of articles, intriguingly called Play Makes Us Human, Dr. Peter Gray muses about Why Hunter-Gatherers Work is Play. Like all the articles in the series, Dr. Grey's analysis is thought-provoking and well-informed. In exploring what hunter-gatherer societies think of as work, Dr. Gray writes:
In general, hunter-gatherers do not have a concept of toil. When they do have that concept, it derives apparently from their contact with outsiders. They may learn a word for toil to refer to the work of their neighboring farmers, miners, or road construction workers, but they do not apply it to their own work. Their own work is simply an extension of children's play. Children play at hunting, gathering, hut construction, tool making, meal preparations, defense against predators, birthing, infant care, healing, negotiation, and so on and so on; and gradually, as their play become increasingly skilled, the activities become productive. The play becomes work, but it does not cease being play. It may even become more fun than before, because the productive quality helps the whole band and is valued by all.
Dr. Gray reaches some conclusions about hunter-gatherer ideas of work which could prove very powerful in helping cybercitizens redefine the work-play connection:
  • Hunter-Gatherers' Work is Playful Because It is Varied and Requires Much Skill, Knowledge, and Intelligence.
  • Hunter-Gatherers' Work is Playful Because There Isn't too Much of It.
  • Hunter-Gatherers' Work is Playful Because It Is Done in a Social Context, with Friends.
  • Hunter-Gatherers' Work is Playful Because Each Person Can Choose When, How, and Whether to Do It.




from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Kids Play, Water Pumps

More photos of the amazing Play Pump.


 What a perfect demonstration of the healing power of play!

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Of Play and Survival

From an article by By Rick Nauert, Ph.D. Senior News Editor of Psych Central, titled Leisure Play is Important for Human Collaboration:
"Play and humor were not just means of adding fun to their lives," according to (Boston College developmental psychologist Peter) Gray. "They were means of maintaining the bandís existence - means of promoting actively the egalitarian attitude, intense sharing, and relative peacefulness for which hunter-gatherers are justly famous and upon which they depended for survival."

This theory has implications for human development in todayís world, said Gray, who explains that social play counteracts tendencies toward greed and arrogance, and promotes concern for the feelings and wellbeing of others.

"It may not be too much of a stretch," says Gray, "to suggest that the selfish actions that led to the recent economic collapse are, in part, symptoms of a society that has forgotten how to play."


from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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