Educationalists are finding better ways to teach skills to kids but transferring ideas into classroom practice is not an easy path to tread. Schools are so geared up to traditional teaching methodology such as prescriptive Learning, tests and Ofsted grades that they literally have little time for innovative approaches.
DevonCommunity, with qualified teachers on board, has its own strategy prepared to provide unique playground teaching for schoolkids. This article considers the issues and touches on our unique solution…
Creating Learning that ‘Kids Care About’
Steve added this article on September 02 2017, updated Sept 19 2017
Beginning at the beginning…. Kids are amazing!
If you’ve got a situation where kids aren’t learning then the key to turning this around may well be ‘switching on’ Motivation.
Play can be pivotal in this process, but adults are only now seeing this, because ironically, the traditional notion that ‘play’ is synonymous with ‘unproductive /useless relaxation’ has created an unnecessary tension between the two goals.
So why this reluctance? Read on …
Everybody wants to do things they’re interested in – it’s not just kids!
In a learning environment, how easy it is to write a rowdy group off because they seem more interested in ‘playing about’ than study?
But play must surely be a primordial characteristic of many species – not just us humans. So then, if play is part of our psyche, to suppress this desire simply doesn’t make sense.
At school, the playground is very often the place children find most enjoyable and we grown-ups shouldn’t criticise them for that. The truth is, adults like to play just as much as children and the only difference is we’re less willing to admit it.
Whilst child-play is commonly overt – a child is more than keen to announce they’re ‘going out to play’ – a parent by contrast, will be likely to qualify a similar desire by the activity involved, such as for instance: jogging or snooker, but rarely express an intention to simply ‘play’.
The closest perhaps that adults might get to admitting play would be in relation to ideas whether for musical composition, scientific endeavour or pure research where an element of critical thinking is involved. Ironically, in such situations, it’s common to hear the expression ‘play around with an idea’ though even here, asking the individual if they’re playing, risks the retort: ‘please don’t interrupt, I’m busy working’!
Why is this?
Well, in the workplace, there is a noticeable antipathy towards ‘too much play’, so have industrial-era attitudes killed our spirit off?
On a brighter note, one worthy and refreshing exception is Google’s Innovative X Lab which literally encourages play and furthermore, condones so-called ‘failure’ along the way in order to stimulate tentative thinking.
Back to kids though, that rough and tumble of the playground is really an experiential lab – just like Google’s X Lab – yet likely to be far more unscripted!
A good parent will recognise the importance of ‘play’ in the Learning process of a young child, but it is only in recent years that we’re beginning to accept full integration of ‘playful strategies’ for formative years and indeed, into formal lifelong Learning too.
This important field is being researched more thoroughly, here are several examples:
- Cambridge University looking at just this for developing writing skills in children.
- conference on Playful Learning in Manchester, UK.
- Study by MIT into Playful Systems
play with ideas – develop motivation strategy
So consider the ‘amazing kids’ and the stereotypical image of an unmanageable class. This only becomes a reality if you’ve not matched students abilities to Learning outcomes and not created an interesting Learning path.
The key is to motivate intrinsically, that is, create self-motivation.
As we’ve shown earlier, Play can act as a powerful lever in motivating students, so the trick then is marrying the Learning Goal with Student Interest in a playful manner and it has to be done carefully and covertly (in order to maintain excitement and intrigue).
In planning such strategy, it’s also important to consider Phenomenography and Variation Theory, thus preparing a contingent range of solutions.
the DevonCommunity ‘Learning Wagon’
We haven’t christened our Learning vehicle yet (a big Iveco van), but for the moment, it’s the Learning Wagon!
Our exciting goal then is to deliver motivational Learning (initially) in Primary Schools year 6 around the County of Devon and the ‘classroom’ is going to be school playgrounds using our vehicle with a big tent next to it. Learning will be linked to National Curriculum.
This service will be free.
*We expect to roll this out for Spring 2018.
**Steve is an Education Consultant at ULearnUK.com
more info very soon