So I was really interested to run across this post at Fischbowl regarding the role of play in education. Karl Fisch highlights a post by his school district’s CIO, Dan Maas, who beautifully illustrates how the love of something is often born from having time to “play” at it early on.
In our earnestness this time of year, it’s easy to get so focused on goals that we forget the power and value of play for our students or for ourselves, for that matter.
ForestForTrees, who created the photo from Flickr.com above, reminds us of the definition of play in his photo comments:
“Play consists of…
* “Activities not consciously performed for the sake of any result beyond themselves” (Dewey)
* “Instinctive practice, without serious intent, of activities which will later be essential to life” (Groos).
Source: Definitions of Play and Pretense“
But in his comments on Karl’s post, Barry Bachenheimer notices how often we call things we do in school “work.”
“‘Do your work’, ‘Home work’, ‘Turn in your work.’ Learning is seen as a task and not as an enjoyable activity.”
I think therein lies a real challenge for us with students. How can we reengage that sense of play?
The other challenge this thread of commentary raises for me is “our work” as educators. Do we ever think of it as play? Do we still enjoy learning, tinkering around with things, or figuring things out? Aren’t we more inspired and enthusiastic when we can do that?
It’s a special challenge this time of year to remember to let ourselves play, to slow down and enjoy a moment, to do something for the sheer enjoyment of it, whether at “work” or elsewhere. But we all need to take time out to “sharpen the saw” as Stephen Covey puts it, and bring the energy we gain from our play back into our classrooms and schools.
I’ve been too tired to post much lately but I noticed when I was reading about play how much it energized me. Perhaps even the mere notion of play can relax us? Food for thought….