Don’t control them. Don’t protect them too much, and they need to tumble sometimes. They need to get some injury. And that makes them learn how to live in this world.
Summer is the time of adventures, exploring what is out in the world that you really enjoy. Then you come back to the fall with a good basic foundation to start the school year ready for action. It is almost like the true beginning of the year is the summer because it is when you really start learning and preparing for the next year. – High School (Rising) Sophomore, from her blog
It’s an interesting narrative, isn’t it? Worthy of much reflection and inquiry. Is it the narrative we educators really want school students to have? That summer is the time of adventures – the seasonal time in our annual cycle to explore in the world that which “you really enjoy?”
What if school-age students perceived school to be the time of adventures and the time to explore that which we really enjoy? What if we reverse engineered from that desired outcome? What if we backwards designed from that narrative? What if the content, competencies, and motivations (HT @DrTonyWagner) that we know to constitute deeper, lifelong learning and citizenship formed the bedrock of formalized schooling? What if play, passion, and purpose (HT #2 to @DrTonyWagner) were more deliberately woven into the tapestry of what we call the academic year? What if summer were not the sole domain of adventure and exploring “the world that you really enjoy?”
How are you being present – being in the present – and playing to connect?
On Tuesday, March 4, thanks to Mary Cantwell, Trey Boden, a number of folks @MVPSchool, and the organizers of SXSWedu, I enjoyed a fabulous opportunity to facilitate a Playground Session at SXSWedu, in the “Hands On” category.
By playing, we were not preparing for anything in particular or readying ourselves for the future. We were playing to be present – to be in the present – and to connect with our fellow playmates, or learners. We were playing to connect with our inner child, our beginner’s mind, and our innate storyteller. We were playing to #HaveFun and thread connections among ourselves and others.
We were playing to…play.
Like kids on a playground.
Like we did when we were immersed in our own childhoods.
At the end of January, Shelley Clifford and I attended a Creative Mornings Atlanta. The theme was “Childhood,” and we heard Aretta Baumgartner and Patty Dees speak about puppetry arts as a way of reconnecting with our childhood — being fully present and playing to connect. As Aretta captivated us all, she strung us together in a game that put us in the role of puppets. And our biggest challenge was to BE PRESENT. To let go of our egos and to simply enjoy playing.
During the #SXSWedu Playground session “Mount Vernon Plays to Connect,” we reiterated this point about the power of play — there is great energy and fun in being present and being in the present. Amidst the joy of doing so, we connect to a great many things, and, more importantly, to a great many other people.
When we play, we are like children embracing their childhood — playing to learn, playing to connect, and playing to…play.
Be present. Be in the present. Embrace your childhood. Connect. Go play.
A wonderful story of the Growth Mindset and the power of making room to pursue passion through play…
When I was 14 years old, I had low self-esteem. I felt I was not talented at anything.
One day, I bought a yo-yo. When I tried my first trick, it looked like this. I couldn’t even do the simplest trick, but it was very natural for me, because I was not dextrous, and hated all sports. But after one week of practicing, my throws became more like this. A bit better. I thought, the yo-yo is something for me to be good at, for the first time in my life. I found my passion. I was spending all my time practicing. It took me hours and hours a day to build my skills up to the next level.
= = =
As a result of these efforts, and the help of many others,it happened.I won the World Yo-Yo Contest againin the artistic performance division.I passed an audition for Cirque du Soleil.Today, I am standing on the TED stagewith the yo-yo in front of you.
What I learned from the yo-yo is,if I make enough effort with huge passion,there is no impossible.
Words matter. And “all change is linguistic.”
It’s intriguing to me that we play guitar, we play soccer, and we play a role on stage. Yet, we take algebra, we take English, and we take history. I may be remembering my French incorrectly, but I think many of the expressions for play are composed of the verb “faire” – to do or to make. I love that. Isn’t that what we are realizing about our 2.0 world – that the masses are now empowered to be producers of content and creativity, not just consumers of such? That we are more empowered now to do and to make and to play even.
Are we, in fact, keeping up with this evolution in schools?
Perhaps we should do and make and play more – instead of take – in school.
Or consider the word we often use when one teacher decides to use an idea from another teacher. What do we regularly say? “Oh, I’m going to steal that idea.”
We talk of children getting an education. I’ve written before of children giving an education. Recently, at TEDxAtlanta “Edge of the South,” I heard Brian Preston speak about Lamon Luther and giving hope. I’ve also just read about his story on CNN, where I also watched a moving, three-minute video about the doing and making that helped people discover better lives.
If you read this blog much, you know that I believe school children can do and make this kind of work, too. They are capable. They care. They seek relevance and engagement. They appreciate guidance and support. They can do and make…good and well. They can give…even better than they can get.
To me, a thread that could hold all of the above together is the thread of SHARE. Enough taking and stealing. Let’s do, make, play, and share. Where do we first learn to share? Through play.
Perhaps we should play more. There’s certainly great evidence and thoughtfulness around this idea. The educationese is “play-based learning.”
- Research Shows Youngest Kids Learn by Thinking Like Scientists
- Want to get your kids into college? Let them play
- EQ over IQ: How play-based learning can lead to more successful kids
- Play vs Academics: A False Dichotomy
- Be Playful
When we play, we often find flow. We lose track of time, and an hour can seem like a minute. We perform more optimally as we become absorbed and fully engaged in what we are doing. Often, we are “giving our all” in these situations. Not taking. Something deep within us is being drawn and pulled out of us – something is being forged and revealed.
Words matter. And all change is linguistic.
As I’ve written many times before, I love the root of “education” – educare. To draw out from within. Or to guide out of the regular.
We need to share more. Play more. We should be guiding students to give an education. We should make certain that we are working to draw out from within, instead of trying to fill up from without. We should rebalance and guide out from the regular. We should do. Make. Play. Share.
What a difference could be made.