“[F]rom my perspective as a clinician, when one really doesn’t play at all or very little in adulthood, there are consequences: rigidities, depression, lack of adaptability, no irony — you know, things that are pretty important, that enable us to cope in a world of many demands.”
– Stuart Brown, interviewed for On Being: Play, Spirit and Character
Word Rocket believes there need be no division between the arts and sciences, or between different academic disciplines. Underpinning our approach is the belief that every researcher has fascinating stories to tell about her work and that every specialist can bring their subject alive for those in her field or others, and for the public. “[S]cientists notice things in the world around us, things like disease; we do some research and then we create stories to try to explain the world around us […] Like all storytelling that requires a metaphor—the war between us and bacteria, bodies divided into systems like machines—the better our metaphors, the better our science.” (Callahan, 2013).
IMAGINATION AND PLAY
Imagination and play are a serious business. “Imagination enables a researcher to examine the world in different ways and from different perspectives” (Lapum et al.: 103). There’s a great deal of evidence of their centrality to human development and cognitive processes. Time to play is far from time wasted. Word Rocket’s approach is underpinned by pedagogical theory and an awareness of how to nurture risk through creative and expressive processes. Through activities that lead participants gently and playfully towards a session’s objectives and outcomes, we can discover new aptitudes, novel perspectives and productive possibilities.
As arts practitioners, Paul and Caleb are passionate about the role of creativity in their wellbeing, as a practice of learning about the world, ourselves and each other. “The miracle of your mind isn’t that you can see the world as it is. It’s that you can see the world as it isn’t. We can remember the past, and we can think about the future, and we can imagine what it’s like to be some other person in some other place.” (Schulz, 2011)
Word Rocket creates workshops that are both productive and uplifting, supporting researchers to feel positive about their research and to reframe challenges they may have experienced. They help to foster a community of openness and mutual support, in which researchers can better imagine their personal and professional development.
An awareness of mental health and ‘mental hygiene’ can be key factors in remaining resilient and completing a research project. With stress a real and present concern for researchers and employers, taking time to consider one’s wellbeing and support networks, in a fun and playful setting, can be a valuable exercise.
We’re exploring ways in which our work can support and connect with areas of the Researcher Development Framework of Vitae – and would love to talk to you about this.
We’re always reading, watching, listening and exploring – and update this with our current ‘brainfood’…
- Reading: Poetry, Therapy & Emotional Life by Diana Hedges
- Watching: The Man in the High Castle – a great adaptation of counterfactual fiction
- Listening: RadioLab – the one about K-Pop was fascinating.
- Reading: When Species Meet by Donna Haraway
- Watching: Cooked by Michael Pollan
- Listening: On Being podcast.