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Play & Collaboration Enhance Creativity & Problem Solving


Recently I spent a delightful hour with an inventor, an experience that shows how essential play is, for adults and children alike, if we’re to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. The process of play leads to learning. I’m thinking of play as any activity we do for pleasure. As we play, we encounter challenges and figure out ways to overcome obstacles, as does the inventor.

Once while digging out a shrub, he could find nothing that worked well for cutting the tap root. That led to the invention of a tough tool with a four inch wide forged steel blade with beveled cutting edge. Owning a specialty gardening tool company, he had access to toolmakers able to produce prototypes from designs he often drew on napkins.

Taking a prototype to a city yard, he asked parks personnel to try it out and tell him how they used it. Upon his return, he received an enthusiastic response from an unexpected source. Street cleaners found the tool ideal for scrapping off the debris that collects around sweeper brushes. Further trials uncovered more unanticipated uses. And this unnamed multi-use tough tool became Mutt.

This story underscores the importance of play and collaboration. The inventor encountered a challenge, enjoyed figuring out how to solve the problem, then invited input on the utility of his solution. By demonstrating the versatility of Mutt, these collaborative efforts provided invaluable information.

Encountering obstacles, pondering solutions until we discover a viable one or decide to move on to something else, as the inventor assures me he has many times, and collaborating are aspects of open-ended play that serve us well.

What’s the moral of this tale? Play and collaborate to become more creative and a better problem-solver.

 PlayopolisToys – for the diverse needs of the citizens of play