I’m looking forward to celebrating the launch of my Palgrave Macmillan book series, Studies in Play, Performance, Learning and Development tomorrow afternoon, March 12. Creativity and Community among Autism-Spectrum Youth: Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play and Performance, edited by Peter Smagorinsky, is not only the first in the series, it’s really a great book!
To expand on that, I share the Foreword I wrote for Creativity and Community…. You might notice the title is different (it was changed to be more “searchable” after I wrote it).
I am delighted to launch this series, “Studies in Play, Performance, Learning and Development” with such an eclectic and creative book as Creating Positive Social Updrafts through Play and Performance: Fostering Creativity and Community among Autism-Spectrum Youth. Peter Smagorinsky has done a wonderful job creating a themed volume in which scholars and practitioners speak passionately and informatively about some of the most cutting-edge work being done by, with, and for young people diagnosed on the autism spectrum. These authors, aided immeasurably by the mental health, play/performance and Vygotskian framework presented in Smagorinsky’s chapters, give readers the gift of their relationships with the people with whom they work and play. There is no dead prose within the pages of this book!
In the beginning I envisioned the series as an opportunity to bring together some things that too often remain apart: (1) theory, research and practical intervention related to (2) what we know—and still need to discover—about the human activities of playing and performing with (3) what we know—and need to still discover—about human learning and development. And while the cross fertilization of the “play and performance” folks with the “learning and development” people is underway, the scholars and practitioners engaged in this kind of work are spread out in many fields—from education, developmental, social and organizational psychology, psychotherapy and counselling to drama and the performing arts, performance studies, and applied and educational theatre.
For two decades I have had the privilege of meeting, learning from and partnering with hundreds of people like the contributors to Creating Positive Social Updrafts…in the US and globally. What I hear again and again is a desire to expand their own voices and reach, so that they may continue to innovate and discover more about the kinds of activities that help individuals, groups—indeed, humanity—go beyond the present conditions. My thanks to Smagorinsky and his contributors for their leadership in this effort.