Friday, 1 June 2018

Can ‘Play’ be Seen as Work ?

Each week an email bounces into my inbox from   I often choose one of the videos to share with classes as part of my regular ‘cameo’ class visits as the videos are usually powerful and thought provoking.

Because a recent one was particularly good on so many levels, I strongly recommend you take 7 minutes and have a look at it.

The video just adds enormous weight to the growing development and recognition of Learning through Play which so many schools are investigating.
I see so many adults shudder at the thought of their children going to school to ‘play’ and not getting down to the real work. I ‘get this’ as when most of us went through school, work was work and play was for playtime.
Many parents have come through a school system based on the transmission (empty vessel) model where the teacher helped fill the student with knowledge in preparation for exam unloading of what they had learnt. With this model in mind, it would be easy to be fooled by busy work via worksheets or other low level tasks laboriously presented with beautiful handwriting, straight lines and crafted borders.
I have to admit, with what we now know about how children learn, ‘it does my head in’ to see low level busy work whether it is through the traditional classroom lens or the learning through play approach.
There has to be a meaningful purpose (learning intention) and rigour for the learning environment to be as powerful as it should be. This doesn’t mean laughter and fun has to disappear and in fact motivation theory demonstrates that when our emotions are positively engaged we are in our optimum learning ‘flow’ which means we are very ready and energised to learn.
The video I recommended you to watch shows quite explicitly the power of play.
I often think I would love to take the word play out of the education discussion as it so often produces glazed over looks from some, annoyed expressions from others and an ethereal look from the devotees.
Some years ago, a student in my school coined the phrase ‘edutainment’(1) which in his words is a series of events sneakily intertwined with education. School should be a place of education, entertainment, friendship and memories. I would like to take this word ‘edutainment’ which I love and because it sits so well with the gamification growth in the curriculum and merge it with Papert’s ‘hard fun’ expression of all those years ago. This merger gets rid of the distracting word play and gets to the heart of the matter.

A quality learning environment promotes a strong work ethic mixed with highly engaging tasks (hard fun) and inquiries where the skills of finding out and understanding (research) are incrementally scaffolded for young children. Curiosity, creativity and rigour need to be at education’s heart.
At least equally important is the E.Q (emotional intelligence) support and development in schools. Without the backbone of E.Q., IQ is undermined and meaningless. The social and emotional aspects of education are more important than ever.
I love the charts included in the appendix of this blog and subscribe to so much of what is said in the related article.
Enough from me, except to say, don’t forget to watch the video. (link repeated)
Warren Owen
Appendix: (The work place needs of the future and the relationship of play in preparing children with the key skills and competencies required)

(1) Theo MacDonald

Picture and Quote ref: