(One of our crewmates opines how play can help bring the classroom to life.)
Learning through play is now widely accepted in early childhood education curriculum and practiced in pre-K and kindergarten classrooms. We know that children learn through play; it is how they socialise, forming bonds within and outside of the family unit, how they sense-make, and most importantly, how they form and test discoveries.
In fact, the pedagogy of play is being researched by Harvard University’s Project Zero and the team has been working to redefine play and re-imagine learning in schools, exploring three core questions: What does it mean to have a pedagogy of play and why is it important? What does playful learning look and feel like in classrooms and schools? How do educators set up the conditions where playful learning thrives?
A key finding worth exploring further is that learning through play is contextually determined. Playful learning differs from community to community, indicating the presence of cultural acceptance and norms. This insight also led to the Project Zero team developing culturally specific models of learning through play as well as a meta-model and research guide for schools to develop their own cultures of playful pedagogy.
During a live conversation with the brilliant Very Clear Cut hosts, we talked about the need to define play and learning through play. We also talked about the need for playful learning in classrooms of different ages, not just for those attending kindergarten, but also for the teenagers and even adults. In fact, we posted the question whether the lack of playful learning in classrooms for older students is counter-intuitive.
So if learning through play is contextually determined, the lack of playful learning in classrooms for older students could be due to the common norm of formal education models preparing students for successful entry into industry. The often high stakes examinations require rigour and rote learning and this system has proven effective. The best of the batch get the best internships, apprenticeships and scholarships.
If this is all there is to education, then we have established systems that have proven themselves effective and capable of producing better and better batches. Yet, if there is more to education, for example, helping the individual discover talents and strengths, then perhaps we should give more thought to playful learning in classrooms across the different ages.