Summary of “The Play Deficit”

In a book called The Play of Animals, Groos argued that play came about by natural selection as a means to ensure that animals would practise the skills they need in order to survive and reproduce.
It explains why young animals play more than older ones and why those animals that depend least on rigid instincts for survival, and most on learning, play the most.
Lion cubs and other young predators play at stalking and pouncing or chasing, while zebra colts and other prey species play at fleeing and dodging.
Groos followed The Play of Animals with a second book, The Play of Man, in which he extended his insights about animal play to humans.
In hunter-gatherer bands, at Sudbury Valley School, and everywhere that children have regular access to other children, most play is social play.
Preschoolers playing a game of ‘house’ spend more time figuring out how to play than actually playing.
Social play is by far the most effective venue for learning such lessons, and I suspect that children’s strong drive for such play came about, in evolution, primarily for that purpose.
We think of play as childish, but to the child, play is the experience of being like an adult: being self-controlled and responsible.

The orginal article.