TASP 2018 Keynote Addresses

The Association for the Study of Play

44th Annual International Conference Keynotes

The TASP Board voted to release YouTube links for the two extraordinary keynote talks by Peter Gray and Tom Henricks. The Play, Policy, and Practice Interest Forum, NAEYC is delighted to share these with you and yours.


The Brian Sutton Smith Memorial Lecture was given by Peter Gray

Peter Gray Keynote:   https://youtu.be/5VsajvrjMCg

“The Promise of Play”

“Play” is a word commonly used to refer to children’s preferred activities and to some adult activities.  But what, really, is play?  In this talk I will define play as activity that (1) self-chosen and self-directed; (2) motivated by means more than ends; (3) guided by mental rules; (4) imaginative; and (5) conducted in an alert, active, but relatively non-stressed frame of mind.  I will describe these characteristics and show how each of them contributes to play’s educational and developmental value. I will explain why play came about, in natural selection, to promote children’s healthy physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth. I will also explain why age-mixed play among children and adolescents is especially valuable, for both the younger and older players.

Professor Gray joined the Boston College faculty in the Fall of 1972 and taught regularly until the Spring of 2002. He is author of Psychology, an introductory textbook now in its sixth edition, and, most recently, Free To Learn: Why Unleasing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life. His past research had to do with basic mammalian motivational mechanisms, and his present research has to do with children’s play and its educative value. Professor Gray is now retired from regular teaching, but continues to conduct and publish research and give guest lectures



The TASP Distinguished Theorist Lecture was given by Thomas Henricks.

Tom Henricks Keynote:  https://youtu.be/k_YNbMTj8TY

 “What we “realize” when we play: Selves, relationships, meanings – and other matters?

Play studies centers on questions of what play is, why people (and other species) do it, and what consequences that behavior has. In this session, participants reconsider those questions. The session begins with an overview of Brian Sutton-Smith’s classic work The Ambiguity of Play, which emphasizes the variability of play behaviors and describes seven traditions of play scholarship. Then the session leader discusses his own (continuing) attempts to develop a general theory of play, especially as expressed in the 2015 book, Play and the Human Condition. That book argues that play constitutes a particular pathway of “self-realization” that distinguishes it from other basic behaviors. As important as self-realization (comprehending one’s possibilities as a person) is, there are other things that play is “about.” The session also considers “relationships” (our involvements in the world), “meanings” (strategies for comprehending/responding to worldly occurrences), and “emotions” (the theme of Sutton-Smith’s last writing). Participants are asked to reflect on (through informal writing) what they consider to be key dimensions and meanings of play. These reflections lead to general discussion about a range of themes, including play’s character and implications; the pertinence of theory to research and practice; and needed directions for play scholarship.

Tom Henricks is Danieley Professor of Sociology at Elon University. Much of his scholarship has focused on the nature of human play, particularly as that activity can be contrasted to other pathways for human expression. More generally, he studies the construction of experience and self-awareness. He has authored numerous writings on play, including the 2015 book “Play and the Human Condition”. He is also a co-editor of the 2015 “Handbook of the Study of Play”.

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PPP Award Nominations by Oct.15, 2017… click to see HOW!

Hello Play Policy, and Practice Interest Forum Members,

Here is a wonderful opportunity to recognize three individuals in the early childhood field who are deeply engaged in and committed to research, policy and/or practice issues focused primarily on children’s play.

We (NAEYC’s Play Policy and Practice Interest Forum) are seeking nominations for the Patricia Monighan Nourot Award, the Edgar Klugman Award, and the Emerging Scholar Award. These awards will be presented at the Play Policy and Practice Interest Forum Business Meeting during the NAEYC Annual Conference in Atlanta Georgia in November.

The Patricia Monighan Nourot Award

In 1985 Patricia Monighan Nourot was one of the founding members of the Play Policy and Practice Caucus. She was one of a group of play scholars who conceived the idea and she invented the title for what would in time become the Play Policy and Practice Interest Forum. This is just one example of the kind of creative and innovative thinking she embodied.       In her honor The Patricia Monighan Nourot Award is bestowed upon a person who has made creative contributions in their area of expertise. These areas include: Theory and/or research, practice, and policy.

Recent past honorees include:  Michael Patte, Marcia Nell, Olga Jarrett

The Edgar Klugman Award

Edgar “Ed” Klugman is a professor emeritus of Wheelock College in Early Childhood Education and Care. He was also one of the founding members of the Play Policy and Practice Interest Forums. At 92 years of age his bright spark of humor and quick wit is evident as he continues to be a mentor, a visionary, and an inspiration to the field.     In his honor the Edgar Klugman Award is bestowed upon a person in recognition of their leadership and research in the field of early childhood and play and human development.

Recent past honorees include: Lynn Hartle, Dorothy Sluss, James Johnson

The Emerging Scholar Award

This award is given to an outstanding graduate student in recognition of their scholarship, professional service, and leadership who is dedicated to promoting play in the lives of children, teachers, and parents.

Recent past honorees include:  Lindsey Robey, Mary Mahoney-Ferster

Not sure who to nominate? Honorees are chosen based on the following criteria:

  • Creative contributions in their area of expertise theory, practice, policy.
  • Contributions in influencing how constructive play is perceived.
  • Uncovering new forms and ways that play reaches out and adapts to new contexts.
  • Building bridges to other disciplines and creating new insights.
  • Understanding new populations and reaching out to affect their growth and development.
  • Collaborative demonstrations that effect change.
  • Unique ways of influencing a sector in society.
  • Working closely with other organizations who focus on play and developing unique ways of influencing the contexts in which they provide service to communities.
  • Demonstrate policy influence to overcome barriers through the policy process.
  • Create legislation at the local, state, and or the national level that influenced the play environment.
  • Wrote a position paper that received wide recognition and dissemination
  • Searched out ways of translating research findings into lay language

Got someone in mind who is deserving of one of these prestegious awards?          Send a letter of recommendation to Robin Ploof rploof@champlain.edu by October 15th.

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Fall 2017

“Watch and Listen to the Children: Play Informs Research, Theory, and Practice”

 Sandra Waite-Stupiansky, Guest Editor    Professor Emerita, Edinboro University, PA

This issue of PPP Connections will explore the notion that children’s play has informed most of the influential theorists of the twentieth century such as Piaget, Erikson, and Vygotsky.

 Authors are asked to submit a reflective piece (no longer than 1500 words) to stupiansky@earthlink.net