How Play Affects Our Relationship with the World
The best thing we can do for ourselves and our children is to reclaim the playground.
Gwen Gordon is an Emmy award winning creative director who designed and built Muppets for Sesame Street. She is also the producer of the multi-part PBS series NOW Playing.
I recently stumbled upon this insightful interview she did a couple years ago. My favorite excerpts below:In the early 70′s, John Bowlby described how a close and reliable bond with our primary caregiver is critical to healthy development. The two main ways we form those critical bonds is through playing and soothing.Bowlby described three different attachment styles based on the level of security in the attachment bond: Secure, anxious/ambivalent, and avoidant. (A fourth one, disorganized attachment, was discovered later.) Bowlby observed how those earliest attachment relationships form the basis for our unconscious internal working models that get generalized to the whole world. In other words, before we have any ideas about religion or politics we have a worldview…The securely attached person would see the world as a playground. S/he is more open, playful, and can more easily tolerate ambiguity.The child with an anxious/ambivalent attachment style grows up seeing the world as a proving ground where s/he feels s/he has to constantly prove herself to earn love.The child with an avoidant attachment style grows up seeing the world as a battleground where everybody is a potential threat not to be trusted.Sometimes we feel more secure than at other times, but most of us have a center of gravity or default style that we go to under “normal” circumstances. Luckily, this isn’t a life sentence. We can all earn secure attachment and restore the sense of life as play.Even if we’re lucky enough to have a secure attachment and view the world as a playground, modern life actually functions as a proving ground and battlefield. Our education and economic institutions are structured as proving grounds. That’s why we’re trying to get infants prepared for college! We think we’re serving our children by getting them ready to prove and protect themselves on a proving and battleground.