Continuing with Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind’s 6 “senses.” The fifth right-brained skill he identifies is play. When you’re doing something and it feels like play, your motivation automatically goes up. Just imagine if your job was like that. What if learning for kids involved play?
Innovation and invention often come about from play. The Smithsonian had an exhibit linking play to inventors. It’s clear the d.school with its new building, also had play as part of the design process.
Books, such as, Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown and The Power of Play: Doing What Comes Naturally by David Elkind have reached bestseller lists.
Kids need to be kids sometimes too, but often the pressures of ‘covering’ a ballooning curriculum all across this country continue to grow with new things added to it all the time.
In addition to the traditional core curriculum, themes like global awarenes, financial, business, and entrepreneurial literacy, health literacy, civic literacy, and environmental/sustainable literacy should all be integrated. In addition, Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication and Collaboration, Information, Media, and Technology skills are all viewed as essential according to the Partnership for 21st Century skills. Then there’s life skills as well as social/emotional learning. No where does it say play. But I agree with Brown, that it indeed invigorates the soul. We need to make learning fun for kids, and they can learn so much from playing.
According to Daniel Pink, the workplace should include play. Companies like google have done remarkably well because of play. One of Pink’s recommendations is to play some sort of Caption This game.
Looking John Medina’s Brain Rules: it’s easy to see that play fosters many of them: Exercise, Attention, Stress, Sensory Integration, and Exploration just to name a few.
Everybody’s play is different. Currently, keeping this blog and tinkering with web2.0 tools has been my personal play, and I’m learning a great deal as a result. For others, gardening, walking their dog, or running, may be theirs. Sometimes we become too serious and biased by our previous experiences to let new ideas blossom. We don’t give ourselves the chance to fail to learn, and risk to succeed in a changing world. Instead, while well-intentioned, we let “busy” get in the way and forget to play.