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Weekly Play – How To Be (Make)

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Learning and Playing


I’ve been loving these past two weeks reading of Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown’s A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change.

The first two chapters (“Arc-of-Life Learning” and “A Tale of Two Cultures”) speaks of this “new culture of learning” phenomenon which is currently happening beyond the traditional classroom setting, even the hierarchy of how information was once transferred from expert (teacher) to another (student(s) or to the masses) is no longer the case.

“This new type of learning…takes place without books, without teachers, and without classrooms, and it requires environments that are bounded yet provide complete freedom of action within those boundaries” (Thomas & Brown, p.18).

The basic components of this arc-of-life learning are composed of play, question, and imagine. Reading “Sam’s story” was heartwarming and such a great example on this phenomenon. As I learn about remix this week, it was inspiring to hear this nine year old beautifully and “without hesitation” describe the difference between remix and a copy.

“Gaming across Generations” was another great example of this arc-of-life learning between a mother and son. Reading this story made me think of a previous colleague’s wife and young elementary-age son. I remember this colleague would share/complain how they’re into gaming (which he wasn’t); I am guessing he found it a waste of time and wasn’t into it himself. I also imagine that he didn’t understand or know about the games they were playing either. I don’t what game the mom and son played, but I do know it wasn’t one of those violent or graphic ones (colleague is a educator/teacher & his wife works in social work at the hospital). anyway, reading and learning more about “World of Warcraft” is what I imagine it was or similar to the like. It also made sense to read that it’s more than just playing a game but rather…

“During the time they spend together, family members are not just idly chatting; they are actively engaged with one another-questing, learning, and building teams to complete real tasks. They feel that the connections they build in the context of gaming can be about something concrete: accomplishments and shared experiences that bring them together and motivate them.” (Thomas & Brown, p.28).

Lastly, the part I’ve been wanting to blog about is “Learning through play and imagination” in chapter 3 of “Embracing Change.” The first thing I thought of was how we incorporated “Games” as workshop/activity for our professional development day last week. Since it’s a day to learn (via workshops) and network, we like to end the day with some physical activity. This year, we added games onto our usual pickle-ball and chair yoga. Since I facilitated the “game” portion, I was able to teach two staff three new games: Big Two/Deuces/Pusoy Dos card game, Mancala, and Othello. At first the two wanted to play “Uno,” which was something they knew; but I really wanted to encourage “change motivates and challenges.”

Although the two I assisted found the card game slightly difficult even though they knew the rules to “poker.” Overall, what I saw in them were the curiosity of play and if they were doing it right (learning the game and strategizing): What do I do now? What do I do next as I process the hand just played. I saw this “thinking out loud” and “looking from a different perspective” as they would make an awesome move or fail at it within all three games that we played. I also see gaming as such, not just a time to interact and connect, but also exercise our brain in a fun way. So, remember it’s important to play play play!!!