it is hard to disagree with you, and with the importance that you attribute so passionately to a playful approach to science and maths, and yet the daily activity of a researcher working in public research institutions tends to be sadly affected by competition scenarios, deadlines, etc. (but I read that at Google they have ping-pong tables down the hall!).
Anyway, I was a bit surprised that, in an essay in which the word `play` occurs many times, the related word `music` is completely missing. Having read your bio, I suppose that playing music is one of the forms of play that you contemplate yourself.
It is sad to hear so many high school students (at least in Italy) say that they do not `understand` Math, let alone `enjoying` it. This is because their teachers have failed to let them find out how much fun it can be - probably because they did not enjoy learning it in the first place.
But it is not accidental that so many famous scientists have cultivated music as well.
In my opinion, for stimulating creativity and innovation skills, kids should be exposed as early as possible both the the fun of maths and to that of music, and music improvisation.
And I fully agree that this relation to the playful side of life should be preserved all life long, both at home and at work (which is why I have a keyboard in my office).