Work as play

What is true for children’s play is also true for adults’ sense of play. Research studies have shown repeatedly that adults who have a great deal of freedom as to how and when to do their work commonly experience that work as play, even—in fact, especially—when the work is difficult. In contrast, people who must follow others’ directions, with little creative input of their own, rarely experience their work as play. Moreover, dozens of research studies have shown that when people choose to perform some task, they perform it more fully and effectively than when they feel compelled by others to perform it. When compelled, they tend to do the minimum necessary to meet the requirements…. Everyone, regardless of age, prefers freedom and self-direction to rigid control by others. When we compel children to “learn” in school, they are inclined to do the least possible learning that they can get away with, just as adults are in similar circumstances.

Peter Gray
Free to Learn