My last blog post before I head-for-the-hills (literally!) is around a topic that is causing me some interest and reflection: “Play-Based Learning”.
Over the past 30 years plus we have seen some schools swing from one idea to another with a concerning lack (in some cases) of deep or wide thought.
iPads at pre-schools and children spending countless hours glued to a screen
Inquiry learning where children followed a set model, even if it was restrictive to the natural flow of learning.
Whole language approach that saw a generation of learners unable to spell.
Conversely the phonics approach that saw learners disconnected from rich texts.
Sometimes we can be like a bunch of magpies, rushing towards the next shiny thing. There is also an underpinning fear that if we don’t do it, we will be seen as less progressive.
I wonder if we are doing the same with Play-Based Learning. Are we grabbing at models, matrixes and programmes (and countless MOE PLD hours) that see it as a bolt-on to the rest of classroom practice? We have hundreds of schools allocating specific time for Play-Based Learning, then move back to their ‘normal’ classroom programme for the rest of the day.
Maybe we need stop and think…
What are the philosophies that underpin the concept of Play-Based learning?
What are the pedagogies that support it?
If we were to do this, then couldn’t we move away from a bolt-on approach to a more integrated approach?
Would it then become a “Learning through experience” or “Learning through talk” philosophy and pedagogy?
If we were to circumvent the current bolt-on group-think and consider these questions (and others), what would that mean for your whole curriculum?
How would it look if learners were able to learn through:
This requires a philosophical and pedagogical shift. It requires schools to go deep with their curriculum.
So I implore you to consider, are you bolting-on or blending-in your approaches?
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