Friday, October 16, 2009

Play? when and why? because it feels right and great!

Everyday we choose our attitude, do we mope and complain about everything we are not getting to do or do we smile and try and some some fun in every way possible? This post is about playing, what it does for us and why i think Margaret Carr has chosen 'enjoyment' as the fifth dimension of strength of a learning disposition.

When you enjoy something you learn more, when you move you learn more, when you feel valued you learn more...

I enjoy painting. When I paint the working part of my brain shuts off and I enter a world of colours and choosing the best colour to use, the right wash, the perfect place time to stop and add the outlines. When I paint I am in the zone, i did well at school in Art but I don't really see that that matters now. What matters more is I love doing it, my children love doing it and we get to give it away to the people we love the most.

This painting I did for my best friends wedding, which is the only time I make time to paint, when a significant present is needed, but I'm thinking I should do it way more, its one and a half years since I did that! and schedule it into my day. So I am today! I found my paints to make posters for our Hui and the girls are showing me that you can be 9 and 6 and STILL enjoy a marble run.

Naketa Ferguson, our Auckland 1 ECE ICT PL facilitator told me about the 'play time' at Google;

"At Ulearn I heard in a number of presentations about the Google 20% rule. Apparently all staff at Google get 20% of their time a week to explore their own passions and to play. Rumour has it that most of the new innovative ideas that Google have produced have come from that 20% of time."

To check out Naketa's Blog click on her name and watch a great piano stairway that illustrates the Fun Theory, Thanks Keta!

Back to Art and play, so intrinsically linked and important to me..How did I learn about it?

Did it learn it at School? an article Sharon Carlson found is challenging my ideas on formal lessons beginning at five. One comment from a Cyprus family, there are many from countries responding globally leaped out at me;

"In Cyprus the children start at age six and they have pre-school kindergarten. They start at 0730 and finish at 1330. Many from our village attend universities around the world, so their education appears to be unaffected." Anonymous, 2009

To read more about the latest research after a review of primary school and kindergarten education in England proves formal lessons should not begin until age 6 click here

Sharon shared with me great TED Talks she watches when she is flying or has down time, they are inspirational and watching them is a habit I am forming. This one supports this post that there is powerful learning in play. If you have a spare 26 minutes then i recommend this one by a pioneer in research on play, Dr. Stuart Brown says humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults -- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age. To see this click here

I think I learn best and enjoy it the most when I am moving. Margie Carter's pre-conference workshop explored the possibility of re-representing ideas through Art, and I guess the same goes for ICT. In simple terms if we do this we get 'smarter' Margie says, here is a visual of delegates re-representing a fan to illustrate the power of re-representation with children.

What I think I needed from the workshop too was a physical experience, although I did run round the room taking photos! People sat for the majority of the day and the very next day Gary Stager in his Keynote suggested if the bottom is numb, then its very likely the learners brain is at that point. My Whakaaro is to somehow blend the need of myself and learners. Art and ICT challenges I know would be better performed if I went for a run first. I went to a session with Mel Stopford on "Engaging Learners" where she had a poster up stating: If you want to learn-MOVE. I am looking forward to our Hui where we hear from Cameron Durno on the ways we can move and encourage children to move more in ECE.

"Just an hour a day of vigorous play — running, chasing, games like tag or dodge ball, and even dealing with or avoiding being excluded from these activities — can provide intense skill learning. Physical activity is known to lessen the symptoms of mild attention deficit disorder, and is associated with much lower incidences of childhood obesity. Active kids are also more facile intellectually and perform better academically in the long term." Stuart Brown, 2009

To read more about the benefits of physical play look here; Physical play is more fun than the virtual kind: New York Times

Finally for your viewing and team pleasure I leave you with the FISH philosophy. If we ENJOY what we are doing, children will ENJOY what they are seeing and give it a go. Go go ahead and PLAY, because it feels GOOD, it is RIGHT for us and it only makes our dispositions or strengths in learning deeper!


  1. Excellent post Janine and all so true! If only New Zealand children got to play more - why is it that once children turn 5 "some people" expect that they are ready for structured education and LESS play! We need to change our whole culture of starting school at 5 or ensure that when they do start school it is still about PLAY! I think there are some amazing teachers out there that are taking this on but we do have a long way to go! As for your artwork - AMAZING - you really do need to find more time to play at the things you enjoy and that you are so talented at - GET PAINTING:-) I too came away from Ulearn thinking so much more about playing and have just enjoyed a weekend of playing with a group of girlfriends and am off this weekend to play with my family:-) HAPPY PLAYING!

  2. Thanks Tarnz!! You know when I started Primary Teaching I had a watchdog Associate who wanted me to change my homeplay books back to the title 'homework'. We had a heated discussion over the fact that i want them to like, choose and enjoy what they do at home for school. Each week i would create a 'homeplay' sheet with photos of the children and experiences they could draw out, write about to relate to the areas we were investigating. Parents loved it and children looked forward to it, i really wish that Associate and Teachers like her 'got' children and played more themselves. I am so glad I found CORE where we are all encouraged and trusted to be the wise, creative teachers we always wanted to be :) Enjoy the family play time-you are such a great Mum!