October 16, 2005

We Need to Play More

David Warlick points out some critical ideas here including the value of play and imagination.

My theory is that we were creative because we were one of the only societies that gave their children a childhood. We played. I couldn’t wait for school to end, so that I could go out and play and playing mostly meant pretending.

While I know David is advocating children’s need to play and explore outside of school, I think we need to provide this opportunity inside school as well. Even though we in Canada and specifically Saskatchewan have resisted the standardized testing craze and measurablele outcomes as the focal point of teaching and learning, we’re moving that way in some respects and that worries me. Play and exploration sometimes seem to contradict targets and SMART goals. I don’t have anything against setting targets but we can’t align everything to targets.

A couple of weeks ago, the edtech posse, got together to chat. No agenda, no topics, just talking about stuff we were thinking about. Rick has done this and will be doing this later as part of his IBM fellowship award. He made the comment that he wished all his students would “do this.” Just get together and talk and explore. No lesson plan, just hashing through ideas. Playing. We/I really need to get a handle on this. We need a balance of structured learning with free play both inside and outside of school. My sense is that that scale is still tipped to far away from play.

We people ask me about my job I usually tell them I have the most fun of anyone I work with. Part of my fun comes from the opportunity I have to play and explore and then try out stuff with teachers and kids. Since I’m not in the classroom everyday, I have to be respectful to teachers’ daily grind. But there are many good ones who allow their students to play. They are probably our best teachers.