Play

What is behind the ascension of the world “play” into our education theory?

Everyone is “learning through play”, parents are encouraged to relate to the kids through play. All the kindergartens we have been involved in downplay any structured teaching they might do at the expensive of learning through play.

Surely it just reflects our entertainment driven society?

Are there any pedagogical play pushers outside Western countries? Before the 20th C?

How long before this creeps further up the educational process?

Exception: Playing Quakeworld does teach you operating systems, networking, command line shell scripting, hand eye coordination etc.

2 thoughts on “Play”

  1. As a former teacher, I see play as very important in education. Firstly, learning should be a pleasure. By making learning entertaining and fun you can create a thirst to learn more. Secondly, play is a great way to learn and teach social skills. In classrooms, kids might learn the three Rs but in the playground they learn how to relate to other people.

    The real issue in education is one of balance. Structured learning is important and time need to be set aside for kids to learn how to be disciplined and how to concentrate on specific tasks.I suspect that the use of the word “play” is part of the problem. Perhaps “unstructured learning”, while more cumbersome, is actually more accurate.

    Education has changed and evolved, usually for the better but sometimes for the worse, over the last few thousand years. We have gone through times of oral tradition, on the job training (there weren’t any books for the early hunter/gatherers!), lecture-style classrooms (up to the 1960s classrooms with 50 or 60 pupils weren’t uncommon) and now a shift to less formalised learning systems.

    Looking at my kids’ classrooms, it looks to be a far richer learning place than what I recall as a child. Children are given more responsibility (at least where my kids go to school) for their own learning and that of the other pupils.

  2. Thanks for the comments Tony.

    I think learning as pleasure does go back a long way. But there is alot of pleasure in structured learning too.

    So is the move to unstructured because it works better? Is there evidence to show that? Or are there are philosophical reasons why some educators today prefer unstructured?

    We met a lady at a wedding recently who still teaches classrooms of 60 kids in India, BTW! She did say it only works because her children are extremely well behaved and it is extremely structured.

    What if we are just moving to unstructured because it deals with the symptoms of dysfunctionalities of behaviour? My fear is the “band-aid” principle. By dealing with the symptom you don’t deal with the root problem. For example, what if learning through play creates a thirst, not for learning, but for more play/entertainment? I can remember as a young child having a sixth sense for anything educational in entertainment – my Mum would by “educational” video games and movies, but I could sniff them out and avoid them like the plague!

    I think it is a question of balance, but that is a big question. Thats why I wonder whether anyone else outside the Western world is using the same philosophy. It’s hard to imagine many Asian cultures picking this up? Are those countries going to be leaps and bounds ahead of us intellectually in 30 years time?

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