Why isn’t play valued more in education?

Why do we value one style of learning so much more than another?

Why is play allowed in education up until the end of reception and then it is down to business. I had a conversation with my son Tom (6) and daughter Lyra (5) the other day and my daughter was talking about the role play that she was doing with her friends at school. My son said we don’t do play in class 1, we do work. I thought already the message is starting to sink in by osmosis that play is not work and therefore, not as important. I explained to my son that his sister was learning valuable lessons through play in a similar way to a baby when they have to pick everything up and put it in their mouths to establish how hard things are, or the texture of the material. I explained that when I design I play by drawing my design out several times or play around with materials to find out more about it. As a teacher of design it concerns me that this message is already sinking in at such a young age, as experimentation is a key part of innovation. You need to play like a 3 year old child in a free manor without being clouded by convention or restrictions in order to challenge how we look at the world in order to establish a new idea. So play is a key part of this, playing with an idea or new material, changing it and modifying it helps you to learn and find the best solution. These processes are important in many other subjects as well, trial and error in maths, story telling or creative writing in English, experimenting with theories or chemicals in Science. Kjed Kirk Kristiensen understands the importance of play as his families life’s worth Lego has been built on it, he says that he takes play very seriously. So why is time to play reduced out of curriculums by exam boards and seen as a less valuable style of learning than learning factual content? Both are necessary and both are valuable.  But without the play element you would not find new ways to use the information you have learned. One is more measurable than the other in a standardised format and so may have been given more weight over time by exam boards. Isn’t it about time that we valued all types and styles of learning equally, structured and unstructured. Boelen, who is head of social design at Design Academy Eindhoven suggests we are in a society constantly striving for standardisation and for ticking all the boxes. ‘The quantification of society is ruining and taking away the diversity.’ Whereas The V&A’s Museum of childhood in London understand the importance of play and have plans for a major new redevelopment, ‘The more we discover how children’s brains develop and the importance of the early years, the more we must encourage the power of play. Dressing up, imagination, role-playing and making — these are the habits we need to encourage among London’s latest generation.’ At a time where too many walls are being built, shouldn’t we all be trying to remain open, value play, allow unstructured time for children and ourselves to try new things, experiment and realise how import this is in feeding our sole, freshening our thinking, solving new problems and having some fun.

written by Joe Earley 


#play #examboards #design #experimentation #problemsolving #education #art #teaching #curriculum  #creativity #museumofchildhood @homertoncollege  @tes 


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Tom’s portrait of me whilst designing

Tom’s portrait of me whilst designing