“In a world of near-constant flux, play becomes a strategy for embracing change, rather than a way of growing out of it.” Douglas Thomas & John Seely Brown
I believe we are hard-wired to learn and to create through, and in, the social. We make sense of our world and our experiences through a multitude if ways that, when broken, down look an awful lot like, well, play. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the conversations we have in education about the different metaphors or terms we use to describe learning. For most educators and other stakeholders, we use a factory model to describe learning, students work at school and they have homework they bring from school. Like Snow White’s happy hosts, off to work they go!
Smart people like Daniel Pink and Sir Ken Robinson are challenging us to think about learning as something more than just ‘work’ and there is a whole lot of chitter and chatter about this topic coming from all corners. Some think that learning should be based on a traditional model of ‘hard work’ and ‘rigor’ are essential for student learning, others think that play and free exploration are critical. I think that most of us fall somewhere along this spectrum. I think that we have always used play, creativity and social connections to help us make sense of our environment and face the challenges of life. I also think that many of the tenets we cling to in education are not necessarily long standing or have, as their basis, any connection to what science, or evolution, tells us actually works. Which brings me back to the hard wired part.
Around the world, we have discovered cave art and paintings that were created by those who came before us, eons ago. We know that life in these times was difficult, ruthless and short. It strikes me that, even in those conditions, people felt the need to create, to socialize using text and to play. And, they used the walls of the caves they occupied as the context for this communication. I wonder if their desire was only to enrich their immediate environment (aesthetics) or to communicate their experiences in a more lasting way to those who would follow, or both?
It’s not lost on me that those who use Facebook are following a pattern that can be observed in our earliest history, posting images and text on a wall; to share what they have learned, to create and to be social. So, if we really want to get ‘back to the basics’ and do things the way ‘they have always been done’…
This entry has been cross-posted on my personal blog thesmalleroffice