I’m in my fourth class in my Masters program and for this class, there was some reading to be done before the start of the course. I found Douglas Thomas and John Brown’s book, A New Culture of Learning, to be such an inspiring read. That book, coupled with the week’s videos have really given me the confirmation that what we are doing in this program (our innovative plans) are exactly what we should be doing. I know some have already felt like their ideas have been shot down, or maybe they’re not getting the support they need from their colleagues, but as our professor, Dr. Harapnuik said at the beginning of his CSLE video, “Everybody wants to change the world, but nobody wants to change”. This is what’s wrong with our country right now. I think everyone knows that our education system has to change, but everyone is too damn scared to START the change. No offense to anyone. And for many, the more times you hear “No, no, no..” well that just kills your passion all together.
I love the example that Thomas gave in his TEDx video of the three old child walking down the beach and becomes enthralled by this tree. He begins to touch the tree bark, smell it and even put it in his mouth. Although we don’t go around tasting everything, we need to remember that this is learning. You see the curiosity and excitement in children when they are discovering. It’s quite sad to hear that administrators in our country are limiting and banding the very things that captivate our attention and actually might help encourage our students to want to learn and want to discover. But no.. instead we take it away. This is NOT how we create an thriving learning environment. Let’s give students tools that they can use to go out and explore the world and document it. That’s when we see their eyes light up.. that’s when they control their own learning.
When I think about how play combines passion, imagination and constraint, I immediately think of an experience I had today at earlier this week. Our students got out of school last week, but faculty and teachers returned for our last week yesterday to wrap up our class rooms, have some end of year meetings and even a professional development opportunity. Our professional development was interesting… and FUN. We had Kim McGaw, director of professional programs at Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, come speak with us and we did a lot of different games and activities that encouraged us to play and work together, and also to think about our passions and something we might want to change in this next school year in relationship to our grade levels and/or subjects. One of the first activities we did was divide into groups of about 10 and we played a game called “Zip, Zap, Zop”. We basically all stood in a circle, and one person started the game but clapping and pointing (in a sort of “shoot and point” kind of gesture) to another person in the group while yelling “Zip!”. Then the person they pointed at does the same clap/point gesture to another person in the group while yelling “Zap!” It went on and on and a repetitive motion and very soon what you heard from each group was laughter. We were in groups of colleagues, many that we don’t talk to on a regular basis because of different divisions and what not, but we were playing this game, and these were the rules and you had to be paying attention and we might have looked quite silly, but it was fun. We then played a similar game called “Red ball, yellow ball, blue ball” where in the same circle we were standing in, we throw a “fake” red ball to each other. You don’t know who the person is going to throw the ball to next, so you have stay on your toes. Gradually, Kim would throw in a different color “ball” while we were still passing along the red ball. We had to become creative and come up with ways to differentiate which ball was which, because then it just became a bunch of yelling and we couldn’t keep any one ball going. Some groups decided that they would throw the red ball in a passing motion, and use a kicking motion for the yellow ball and a volleyball bump motion for the blue ball. This exercise proved to be much more difficult because everything was happening simultaneously but within these rules of the game, there was plenty of laughter. I think this is a great example of play combining imagination, passion and constraint. Every group thought of different was to keep the game going. I think we teachers need to create an environment where our students use their imaginations on projects that matter to them. This is honoring their passions. I’m providing a separate link below of Kim McGaw giving a brief summary of her Lego Serious Play workshop that she has also been doing.
Harapnuik, D. (2015, May 8). Creating Significant Learning Environments (CSLE). Retrieved May 28, 2016, from https://youtu.be/eZ-c7rz7eT4
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace?
Thomas, D. (2012, September 12). A New Culture of Learning, Douglas Thomas at TEDxUFM. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/lM80GXlyX0U