Posts Tagged ‘play’

“What role will creativity and play have in the future of arts education?”

 

As an art teacher and digital literacy coach, it is important to me to consider how art education might evolve in the future and what role technology might play. As I investigated the role of creativity, it became clear that the misconception of creativity as solely for the Arts is a common one. Rachel McGarrigal, suggested that this was true for her and that she “had been guilty of thinking that creativity was a synonym for the Arts”. She cited Anna Craft, saying “In the economic environment, the terms ‘entrepreneurship’ and ‘enterprise’ are used, whereas in sociology the term used is ‘innovation’. Yet in education and psychology, the term ‘creativity’ is widely used” (Craft, 2001). It is clear that this may be where the assumption arises that creativity and the arts are mutually exclusive.

Banaji and Burn’s article, “Rhetorics of Creativity” formed a springboard to many aspects of creativity theories and it was at this point that I had to decide which were most poignant to the future of art education in particular. Craft’s writings on possibility thinking and playfulness guided me in choosing avenues to explore in relation to the future of education. Whilst reading Banaji and Burn’s article, play seemed a common link throughout. In a conversation with Judith Kleine Staarman, it became clear how creativity and play are a fundamental aspect of learning and how influential Finland’s educational philosophies are becoming to the rest of the world. Recent articles in the media talk about the importance of “soft skills” (Ma, 2018) and this is reiterated by Krista Kiuru, Finland’s minister of education and science, regarding the importance of developing emotional intelligence, vocational courses and values beyond academics (Gross-Loh, 2014).

My presentation centred around the connection between possibility thinking and alternative futures for art in a digital context, citing recent reports on the necessity of creativity as a core skill and the works of both Craft and Inayatullah. I talked about how play and creativity are interconnected, and I will explore possible digital futures further. It is clear that despite an uncertain future, digital and media literacy is a necessary fluency. You only have to look at the rapidly advancing developments in the past 5-10 years to realise that it is even more important to prepare our students for this uncertainty by giving them the skills to creatively work through this change.

I wanted to explore what creativity meant to me and my school context, to examine how art education is changing and what it might look like in the future, looking at the possible discord or cohesion of traditional art education and the emergence of new technology.

I see many practices of creativity inherent in the arts, yet other subjects focus on knowledge and content, driven by exam requirements. So where is the time for creativity? But shouldn’t we be asking where can creativity be built in to the already existing curriculum, rather than as an add on?

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Figure 1: Mindmap – What is Creativity by Nicki Hambleton

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Figure 2: Menti poll What is creativity?

Looking at Figures 1 & 2, one can see creativity is not tied only to the Arts: problem-solving, divergent thinking, play and curiosity exist in all of us. Craft discusses that, since the shift to STEM, there is even more need to bring back creativity across the curriculum. Invention and innovation are at the heart of STEM and the Horizon report now supports STEAM to incorporate key aspects of the Arts to drive creativity (Horizon report, 2017). Craft and Jeffery make clear distinctions between “teaching creatively and teaching for creativity”, the latter impacting the development of this key skill rather than lessons becoming more entertaining (Jeffery & Craft, 2010).

John Dewey said that everyone is capable of being an artist. Often individuals regard artistry and creativity as a gift, or that you had to be born with it, but as Craft explains this assumption should apply to historical geniuses like da Vinci, Einstein and Mozart (known as Big C creativity). Conversely, little “c” creativity, relates to personal creativity and can be distinct from the Arts: a new idea or creation such as a poem or recipe. Ken Robinson reiterates this, discussing the imagination and “genius” of primary children (Robinson, 2006) and Craft reinforces the notion that everyday creativity is needed to cope with the rapidly changing society we live in. Conversely, Banaji and Burn explain that creativity often arises from “routine” just as your best ideas might arise during a shower or when dropping off to sleep. They reinforce the idea of ubiquitous creativity and that individuals who are not naturally creative may develop creative abilities and awareness through their engagement with arts projects and collaborations (Banaji & Burn, 2010).

Linking to the idea of working together in creative spaces, the rise of Makerspaces has ensured that more schools help students to engage in play and making for enjoyment or to pursue a passion independently. This spike in interest has resulted in new learning spaces like our “Ideas Hub” (Figure 3) bringing together art, design, technology, engineering and science for all ages and with innovation and play at the heart.

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Figure 3: Idea Hacks, UWCSEA 2017

Virtual spaces, social media and games often incorporate play based elements. Understanding popular culture and the way youngsters communicate, interact and play today is relevant to affect change in our teaching content and style. Inayatullah’s future theories discuss moving away from a used future, where nothing really changes, towards alternative futures. To plan for an uncertain future, we need to help students to learn how to learn and become more independent and self-managed about the relevant skills to equip them for change and a diverse world. It is in this way of thinking that consideration can be given to “impossible futures”. Inayatullah et al talk about having a vision of the future rather than a set out road map. We need to consider unique possibilities “that change the direction of reality” (Bussey, Inayatullah, Milojevic, 2008). Some aspects of the future can be mapped based on current trends and developments in globalisation and technology advancements such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence, but it is about being open to a range of alternative futures and possibilities rather than a single one future ahead of us.  At the heart of these alternative futures lies creativity. Creativity is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status (Robinson, 2006). At the heart of creativity are play and experimentation.

In my presentation, I used Craft’s theory on probable, possible and preferable futures and possibility thinking to think about how the future of art might look. Probable futures for art may entail addressing digital futures, moving from traditional materials based lessons to a laptop or tablet. A possible future of art could see both formal and emerging art forms taught to complement each other and a preferable future might be a seamless integration of technology alongside traditional skills with personal choice at the centre of learning. This view of art may not be every art educators ideal, yet we must move the curriculum forward to ensure art is not pushed out as a subject and that it remains relevant in a future digital world. Whatever the future of art education, play must still form a central part.

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Figure 4: The Future of Jobs (WEF, 2016)

Howard Gardner said that “an intelligence entails the ability to solve problems or fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community” (Gardner, n.d) and that intelligences involve various amounts of human endeavour. Everyone, he says, possesses these intelligences or “abilities, talents or mental skills” in varying degrees. He describes examples of these intelligences as writing a story or playing chess and the same could be applied to the arts and creativity. This is particularly true in regard to problem-solving “from scientific theories to musical compositions to successful political campaigns” (Gardner, 1993). As reported in the Future of Jobs, complex problem solving remains the top skill required now and in the future (Figure 4) and goes hand in hand with creativity when regarding issues of overpopulation, conflict and climate change. Csikszentmihalyi states categorically that “there is no question that the human species could not survive if creativity were to run dry”. He equates the future to survival and that developing new solutions will be dependent on creativity. Ironically these modern and future problems were brought about by our own ingenuity and “yesterday’s creative solutions” (Csikszentmihalyi, 1996).

As we lead increasingly technology-driven lives, we need to become more self-directed. Craft describes this personal agency as “little-c creativity”. In Figure 5 below, we see the increasing impact the 4 forms of creativity have on others and specifically where this relates, with little-c, to aspects of our daily lives. Craft explains how important little-c is in coping with change and dealing with small levels of creative problem solving (Craft, 2005).

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Figure 5: Four-C model of creativity, Kaufman & Beghetto, 2009

Craft describes possibility thinking as “the engine that drives little-c creativity” and Burnard’s diagram (Figure 6) describes key features of PT to include innovation, imagination and play. It is interesting to note the mirroring language with the poll on “What is Creativity” in Figure 2.

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Figure 6: Possibility Thinking (Burnard, 2006)

Reading Craft’s thoughts on play and playfulness to engage and foster creativity draws me back to my classroom practice and the nature of experimentation in art. Risk taking is inherent in teenagers whether through gaming or sports, yet this free-play or abandonment of childhood often dissipates the older they get. With this in mind, I would like to focus on aspects of ubiquitous creativity and the connection between play and creativity.

Craft discusses at length how Possibility Thinking is used as a lens for understanding creativity, specifically in the early years’ context. She describes “What is” to “what might be” and through this shift “PT might include questioning, imagination and play” (Craft, Chappell, Cremin and Jeffrey, 2015). This process of inquiry and inquisitiveness, natural in young learners must also be continued as they progress through school and into adult life. Creativity has been noted as a fundamental skill for the future of education alongside critical thinking and problem-solving. These 3 interconnected skills are the foundation of art and design education and the inclusion of these are relevant throughout the curriculum.

Margaret Boden states that exploration is the start of creativity: by exploring an idea, many possibilities spring up and this in itself is creative. Because of this, one can surmise that creativity has a lot in common with play, often “open-ended with no particular goal or aim” (Boden, 2004). Exploring within one’s mind, she describes as “mental maps”. This conscious and subconscious thinking is not related solely to one curriculum area and mind maps are commonplace across learning contexts. As with scientific and computational thinking or decision making, a journey must occur to solve a problem or explore solutions. When facing unknown futures and possibilities, being conscious of how a future can be mapped out can help embrace change.

With technology changing rapidly, education institutions need to be able to explore many ways it can enhance learning. Generation Z are more adept at trying out new things. Just as they might explore a new game or app, they learn by trying, failing, trying again. Boden describes creativity as “playing around”, just as a child plays with a string of beads or a pile of lego to make something new. Play in the young is a natural process to learn about the world and its possibilities. But as we get older, even by early teens, this ability to play freely is diminishing. However, according to Boden, playing is a way of “comparing one way of thinking with another, mapping one onto the other” just as one does with Maths or Science (Boden, 2004). Craft reinforces the idea of play and creativity, relating possibility thinking and the use of technology to amalgamate the actual and online spaces our students learn in.

At the centre of research into the benefits of play is the Playful Learning Center, Helsinki. In Finland, play forms a large part of the students’ day. Kristiina Kumpulainen, talks about playful learning as “an attitude to life” and explains how important the nature of creativity is when one makes something not imagined before. The most effective way to engage others in this experience is to listen and join in, just as one would as a parent with your child and this philosophy can be applied in the classroom with the adult learning alongside a child- to play together to learn together (Kumpulainen, 2016).

Listening to the ideas of Kumpulainen and the nature of learning and play helped me to see a possible future for collaborative learning in art. Watching my Middle School students play with new sculptural materials and ideas, learning together, reminded me of how their social worlds are built on communication and connections.

Elliot Eisner believed that studying the Arts helped develop the holistic child and that part of this theory included critical understanding and thinking skills, amongst others. He talks about the relevance of artistic endeavour to all aspects of the curriculum. Often schools focus on achievement and academic success rather than building on inquiry. Herbert Read describes the process of “being artistic’ not as a practice only by artists but that the creation of work from ideas, imagination and thinking is relevant to any discipline. Therefore this approach should be clear across education and relevant to professions as wide afield as mathematicians, engineers or surgeons. Similarly, Craft says, in order to foster creativity, classrooms should allow for “mistakes and encourage experimentation, openness and risk-taking” (Craft, Chappell et al, 2015) and these are skills for life.

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Figure 7: “Shear” by Bugdanoglu, 2016)

Returning to the future of art education draws me back to the amalgamation of the traditional and digital worlds. In my video, the interactive work of Bugdanoglu exemplifies the new directions artists are exploring by playing with and combining media for the audience to literally play with. At Art Stage, art can be seen to explore and represent new possibilities of the future, capturing previously unthought of ideas and visions. It also brings together the actual and the virtual using technology to change our perception of the world. The future of art education must embrace technological advancements yet be true to its roots. In the presentation, I wanted to demonstrate how immersive art can be as an experience, the connection and symbiosis between artist and audience.

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Figure 8: Photos taken by Nicki Hambleton at The Art Science Museum, Singapore 2016

Modern exhibitions demonstrate possible futures of art with audiences interacting with the creations. Singapore Art Science Museum brings together STEAM and a truly immersive experience (Figure 8). By interacting, you become part of the art. Similarly, a recent exhibition, Mirages et Miracles, shows the potential of AR to connect the artist and audience through a unique experience. It is exciting and challenging to imagine teaching and learning in this way. Innovation and risk-taking are embedded in possibility thinking and it is through questioning and exploring alternative futures that a relevant curriculum can be imagined. Of course, along with great innovation comes challenges. As Laura Cotterill pointed out in her feedback, “how can we keep up with such transitions in terms of educator’s knowledge and experiences with alternative forms of digital engagement tools?” This indeed is an issue for many schools, how do they chose which avenue to explore, which media to invest time, money and resources in and when and how do educators become proficient in these new skills?

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Figure 9: Mirages et Miracles https://www.am-cb.net/projets

Robinson recognised that schools need to ensure subjects are useful for work. As the skills required for existing jobs change, schools need to place more value on creativity: creativity to develop a changing workforce that will be needed in the future to develop innovative solutions far more relevant than academic success. Creativity is no longer only for the young or artistic. Mitch Resnick reinforces Robinson’s reflection on the importance of this fundamental skill for the future workforce, suggesting that adults and children alike should focus more on “imagining, creating, playing, sharing, and reflecting, just as children do in traditional kindergartens” (Resnick, 2017). Robinson urges us to use our “gift of human imagination” and to build on this capacity in our students “to educate their whole being so they can face this future” (Robinson, 2006).

References

Art Stage. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.artstage.com/singapore/pages/9/event

Banaji, S. (n.d.). Mapping the rhetorics of creativity. The Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning. doi:10.4324/9780203817568.ch4

Beghetto, R. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (2007, 05). Toward a broader conception of creativity: A case for “mini-c” creativity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 1(2), 73-79. doi:10.1037/1931-3896.1.2.73

Berkay Bugdan | Art & Design. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://berkaybugdan.com/

Boden, M. A. (2005). The creative mind: Myths and mechanisms. Routledge.

Bussey, M., Inayatullah, S., Milojevic, I. (2008). Alternative Educational Futures: Pedagogies for Emergent Worlds

Chappell, K., Walsh, C., Wren, H., Kenny, K., Schmoelz, A., & Stouraitis, E. (2017, 10). Wise Humanising Creativity. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 7(4), 50-72. doi:10.4018/ijgbl.2017100103

Craft, A (2001). Analysis of Creativity Literature

Craft, A. (2011). Creativity and education futures: Learning in a digital age. Trentham.

Craft, A., Chappell, K., Cremin, T., & Jeffrey, B. (2015). Creativity, education and society. Institute of Education Press, University College.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2015). Creativity: The psychology of discovery and invention. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.

Feldman, D. H., Mihály, C., & Gardner, H. (1994). Changing the world: A framework for the study of creativity. Praeger.

Future of Jobs (2016) Retrieved from http://reports.weforum.org/future-of-jobs-2016/

Gardiner, H (1993) Multiple Intelligences: In a Nutshell retrieved from http://www.pz.harvard.edu/resources/multiple-intelligences-in-a-nutshell

Gross-Loh, C. (2014, March 17). Finnish Education Chief: ‘We Created a School System Based on Equality’. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-a-school-system-based-on-equality/284427/

Gross-Loh, C. (2014, March 17). Finnish Education Chief: ‘We Created a School System Based on Equality’. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/03/finnish-education-chief-we-created-a-school-system-based-on-equality/284427/

Home. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://plchelsinki.fi/

Homepage | Project Zero. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pz.harvard.edu/

Jeffery, B & Craft, A. (2004, 03). Teaching creatively and teaching for creativity: Distinctions and relationships. Educational Studies, 30(1), 77-87. doi:10.1080/0305569032000159750

Ma, J: Everything we teach should be different from machines. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH-fdIkdL_Q

Mirages et miracles – trailer. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/248983439

Playful learning. (n.d) Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/147461730

Resnick, M., & Robinson, K. (2017). Lifelong kindergarten: Cultivating creativity through projects, passion, peers, and play. The MIT Press.

Robinson, K. (2006). Do schools kill creativity? Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity

Walker, T. D. (2015, October 01). The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2015/10/the-joyful-illiterate-kindergartners-of-finland/408325/

Walsh, C., Chappell, K., & Craft, A. (2017, 06). A co-creativity theoretical framework to foster and evaluate the presence of wise humanising creativity in virtual learning environments (VLEs). Thinking Skills and Creativity, 24, 228-241. doi:10.1016/j.tsc.2017.01.001

What can education learn from the arts about the practice of education? (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/biblio/eisner_arts_and_the_practice_of_education.htm

 

 

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From Fiction to Reality

In the future, George Orwell imagined that there would be telescreens, speakwrite and printed postcards, much like computers, CCTV cameras and emails of today (Orwell, 1949). In 1985, Back to the Future predicted flying cars, hoverboards, fingerprint recognition and wearable technology. In Dave Eggers’ book “The Circle”, he described data sharing, public transparency and the ultimate connectivity through responsive wearables and smart objects. More recently in Ernest Cline’s book “Ready Player One”, we see students attend virtual schools as avatars in a dystopian world via VR headsets. How accurate and relevant are these “predictions” and are they more fiction than reality? Examining the Horizon report helps us to see what technologies already exist and which possibilities are just around the corner. Through its report, we can ascertain the necessary steps schools will need to take and investigate how to prepare our students for a future world we cannot yet know.

A Relevant Education

Traditionally the purpose of school has been about academic success. Conversely, schools like UWCSEA have developed a holistic programme, but academics are still the focus and grades remain important when transitioning from High School to University. But do academics prepare our students for survival in the future world? What is authentic learning and a relevant education in 2018? Ken Robinson argues that “creativity, innovative and interpersonal skills and social sensitivity” are the fundamental skills needed (Robinson, 2017). There is never a more relevant time for changing the way students learn with so much technology at their fingertips. As the world of connectivity evolves and the need for innovative and creative entrepreneurs are ever more required, schools need to change. Out with the prescribed curriculum, standardised tests and end terminal examinations and in with digital literacies, multimodality and collaborative learning. Robinson talks about the past when practical and vocational subjects taught the skills that were needed for the workforce (Robinson, 2017). What skills are needed for our emerging world? Creative thinking and innovation have often been under-supported, but they couldn’t be more needed to help solve world problems in our ever growing planet and overwhelmed environment and infrastructure. But as technology threatens to take over our every chore, we need to educate students on surviving the pressures of today with strategies to cope with distractions and peer pressure, safety online and digital citizenship. There is a demand for digital fluencies (Crockett and Churches, 2017) to be compulsory within education norms. Web literacy is a basic skill when reading, writing and participating on the internet. Students need to be taught how to navigate, participate and to synthesize information in order to make sense of it and apply it. It is no longer enough to be solely an acquirer of knowledge; one needs to participate to learn effectively in today’s connected society (Sfard, 1998). But along with this comes pressure and they need to be helped in finding balance and develop strategies through positive role models. By humanising education through personalised learning the rewards will be empowered and intrinsically motivated individuals.

Real-world learning

As one reads the most recent Horizon Report, there are trends of technology in education that continue to feature in their ongoing research. Digital literacy, personalised learning and deep learning have been core areas of study over the past 5 years. More recently the popularity of STEAM, coding, learning spaces and virtual reality have been investigated. (Freeman, Adams Becket, Cummins, Davis & Hall Giesinger, 2017). Many schools have introduced coding for learning across their curriculum and Makerspaces support the rise of STEAM to reflect the skills needed for the world in which we live now.

Schools are responding to the changing curriculum by looking at how to incorporate digital tools effectively within the existing learning environment. Mobile technology aids this transition, with tablets and phones but with this comes distraction and information overload.

Gamification is not a new learning theory and gamified approaches have long since featured in a teacher’s toolkit. Spurred on by Jane McGonigal’s TED talk, “Gaming can make a better World”, wider understanding and acceptance of the power of games and game-based learning led to the development of apps like Quizlet and Duolingo where learning is personalised and adaptable both in the classroom and at home.

The popularity of learning through YouTube over the past 10 years or more has enabled the medium of video to become a hive of activity for both consumers and creators. Individuals have become more open to direct their own learning and as a result online courses through EdX, Coursera, Udemy or MOOCs, have risen in popularity. My own experience of online engagement courses has been motivational, as I can choose a course which meets my needs at a time that best suits me. Practices of flipping classrooms and using videos within apps like Edpuzzle are becoming more usual practices. Similarly, teacher-monitored study sites and mobile apps like MyiMaths, Quizlet and Doddle help integrate person-centred learning opportunities alongside traditional teaching methods. Personalised learning has to be key in the future, where individual needs are understood and digital tools are chosen to improve differentiation. Students will need to become more self-directed learners in order to be motivated to drive their own learning and upskilled for the world of tomorrow.

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Photo Credit: Bratislavsky kraj Flickr via Compfight cc

Emerging Technology

In the Horizon report, virtual reality (VR) features heavily as emerging technology for schools. But “it will take a few years before VR becomes vital to schools around the world.” (Freeman et al., 2017, p.46). As an example of experiential learning, VR has much potential to help students understand and immerse themselves in an environment, situation or place. Google Expeditions has been successful in classrooms as a cheap and simple option when starting out with immersive technology. Being able to step into another world and experience life in another culture or underwater brings the unreachable into the classroom. Simulations prove fun and engaging and this aspect of VR is seen as a potential direction for schools. Relevant world experiences, whether real or virtual, engage and help deeper and authentic learning. In Michael Bodekaer’s TED demonstration of a virtual science lab, he explains how important the education of today’s generations of scientists is in solving world issues such as population growth, health and the environment. He sees immersive technology as a tool to engage and understand difficult concepts and situations to reimagine learning as we know it (Bodekaer, 2015). Apps like Google’s Tilt Brush take VR to the next level. The possibilities are endless but, as it is still in its infancy, we are, as yet, limited in the examples of schools successfully integrating VR into the classroom. The next 12 months will be crucial in changing this shift, as technology evolves and becomes more viable economically and practically.

Focus on Fluencies

With the increasing advancements in technology, there is a growing need to embed the teaching of digital fluencies. Linked to this, in his book “Creative Schools”, Robinson says that we should be teaching students 8 core competencies: curiosity, creativity, criticism, communication, collaboration, compassion, composure and citizenship (Robinson, 2015). To be able to critically question, develop innovative ideas and solve complex problems are crucial skills that build students capabilities to live and work in a future world. As schools change and adapt so must teachers themselves will need to keep abreast of these new literacies.

With these competencies in mind, Director of IT at UWCSEA, Ben Morgan, says schools need to focus on what is needed right now and the relevant technologies that can help us to learn most efficiently. He says that he sees “great examples of using technology all over the College, but what I would love is for the best of that to be in use everywhere” (B. Morgan, personal communication, January 20, 2018). An example of this is the use of Teamie, an online learning platform, used for discussion, sharing of resources, feedback and ongoing formative assessment. If all teachers employed it consistently, then all students would use it effectively, resulting in deeper learning. Only then should we move on to other emerging practices and tools that support learning and enhance digital literacy. Digital fluency has never been more important and, rather than continuing to chase the next best thing, schools should focus on what is the right technology for their students and fully embed it in the curriculum.

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Photo Credit: Pickersgill Reef Flickr via Compfight cc

With advancement comes balance. As students live increasingly sedentary lives, the importance of play and spending time outside will become even more important. The benefits of play are clear in early years but also for older children: play builds skills in collaboration, tolerance and persistence and the Lego Learning Institute cites play as “an essential ingredient to fuel creativity and capacity as learners” (Whitebread, Ackermann, Gauntlett, Wolbers, Weckstrom, 2012).

Whilst online communities and gaming sites allow for collaboration and communication, face to face interactions are still a crucial part of developing relationships. Whitebread talks about the risks attached to play deprivation and how “children’s cognitive development and emotional well-being” is related to the quality of play. When play is taken away or reduced, so too does cognitive functioning and social and emotional development (Whitebread et al., 2012). Bringing play back to the classroom will bring benefits as well as balance.

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Photo Credit: Marie Gbn Flickr via Compfight cc

Deep Learning

Schools need to change to be relevant. By focussing on a culture of innovation, deeper learning will follow (Freeman et al., 2017). In “Different schools for a Different World”, Scott Mcleod and Dean Shareski talk about the big shifts in deeper learning schools and innovative organisations. These are: changing thinking approaches to school; higher level thinking such as creativity, innovation and problem solving; student agency including personalisation and differentiation; authentic work; technology infusion such as global connections and online environments; and “robust tech integration” (McLeod and Shareski, 2018). They cite schools that are fostering deeper learning including High School High, Surrey Academy of Innovative Learning and New Tech High with projects incorporating communication, collaboration, critical thinking and technical proficiency alongside relevant, real-world situations and in flexible learning environments. (McLeod and Shareski, 2018).

Closing the Digital Divide

With rapid advances in technology, concerns must be raised of the digital divide. How do we lessen this gap whilst technology advances so rapidly? How do children in impoverished areas develop these skills? Is the divide between the rich and poor widening with regard to digital literacy? When will access to technology be free and available to all, so that consumers can become creators no matter their culture, status, age or upbringing? How could schools and communities help towards digital inclusion?

With the dawn of a new era of modern media, who will be left behind to widen the gap even further? Should it not be a human right to have access to modern technology.

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Photo Credit: spin’n’shoot Flickr via Compfight cc

References

Bodekaer, M. (n.d.). This virtual lab will revolutionize science class. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/michael_bodekaer_this_virtual_lab_will_revolutionize_science_class

Brown, A., & Green, T. (2016, 06). Virtual Reality: Low-Cost Tools and Resources for the Classroom. TechTrends, 60(5), 517-519. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0102-z

Crockett, Lee, and Andrew Churches. Mindful Assessment: the 6 Essential Fluencies of Innovative Learning. Solution Tree Press, 2017

Cline, E. (2011). Ready player one. New York: Crown Publishers.

Eggers , D. (2013). The Circle: A Novel. New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf.

Freeman, A., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Davis, A., and Hall Giesinger, C. (2017). NMC/CoSN Horizon Report: 2017 K–12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

Mcdonald, D. (2017). The Future Belongs To Those Who Prepare For It Today: How The Nmc Horizon Report (Higher Education Edition) Can Help You Plan Your Institutions Technological Future. EDULEARN17 Proceedings. doi:10.21125/edulearn.2017.0572

Orwell, G. (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four.

McGonigal, J. (n.d.). Gaming can make a better world. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world

McLeod, S., & Shareski, D. (2018). Different schools for a different world. Solution Tree Press, a division of Solution Tree.

Resnick, M. (2012). Let’s teach kids to code. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/mitch_resnick_let_s_teach_kids_to_code

Robinson, K. (n.d.). Changing education paradigms. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_changing_education_paradigms

Robinson, K., & Aronica, L. (2016). Creative schools: The grassroots revolution that’s transforming education. Penguin Books.

Sfard, A. (1998, 03). On Two Metaphors for Learning and the Dangers of Choosing Just One. Educational Researcher, 27(2), 4. doi:10.2307/1176193

Strulle, A. D., & Psotka, J. (n.d.). Educational Games and Virtual Reality. Leadership in Science and Technology: A Reference Handbook, 824-832. doi:10.4135/9781412994231.n94

  1. (2017, January 27). Sir Ken Robinson – The Learning Revolution, BETT 2017 – PART 1. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IMqW79LQS98

The Future of Play. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.legofoundation.com/ko-kr/research-and-learning/foundation-research/the-future-of-play

The Promise of Virtual Reality in Higher Education. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2016/3/the-promise-of-virtual-reality-in-higher-education

Tong, V. (2017, August 23). How Virtual Reality Takes Immersive Contemporary Art to the Next Level. Retrieved from https://theartling.com/en/artzine/2017/08/23/how-virtual-reality-takes-immersive-contemporary-art-to-the-next-level/

Virtual Reality Is for Artists. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://time.com/vr-is-for-artists/

Wegerif, R., & Mansour, N. (2010). A Dialogic Approach to Technology-Enhanced Education for the Global Knowledge Society. New Science of Learning, 325-339. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-5716-0_16

Whitebread, D., Basilio, M., Kuvalja, M. & Verma, M. (2012). The importance of play: a report on the value of children’s play with a series of policy recommendations. Brussels, Belgium: Toys Industries for Europe

When we use the word play it conjures up lost days as a child making sandcastles on the beach or tents from sheets on a rainy day. It reminds me of free time, unrestrained joy and creative interludes in the drudgery of normal life. Play means fun.

If I use the word in the classroom, the atmosphere changes; students are more free with their experimenting without boundaries and restrictions. But often they don’t know what to do; they have forgotten how to play in a learning context. My students are Middle School but I am sure that High School students are the same. So, when did they forget how to play when learning?

Teenagers play all the time when learning a new video game, trying things out, failing, trying again, but they don’t equate the same when at school.

Being playful appears to stop at Middle School, perhaps as they may look foolish in front of their peers, are fearful of making mistakes or maybe they just think they are too old for play any more having transitioned from Primary School.

As for adults; we play even less when learning something new.

So who told us to stop playing?

Picasso stated that,

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once they grow up.

What is play?

The Oxford dictionary describes play as:

activity engaged in for enjoyment and recreation, especially by children.

to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.

Play is a fundamental part of Kindergarten or pre-school, taking up much of these youngster’s day. Play is important to build imagination, collaboration and friendships and they are “developing their language, math, and social-interaction skills.” (Osei Ntiamoah, The Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland, October 1st 2015). Further more, according to her research study The Power of Play, “in the short and long term, play benefits cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development…When play is fun and child-directed, children are motivated to engage in opportunities to learn”.

But is play just for the young learners?

 

Get the Play-doh out!

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Photo Credit: el genio del dub Flickr via Compfight cc

There is nothing more satisfying than playing with a lump of clay, plasticine or play-doh. At any age, the feel of the soft dough (and the smell) brings back memories of childhood and a uncontrolled time of wondrous abandonment! As an art teacher, my classes go quiet when clay is out and students would genuinely choose this medium above all others! But clay work higher up the school is far less used and painting, drawing and photography dominate our exhibitions every year. Other sculptural media feature but less so ceramics. Is this due to their fear of failure or just that we don’t allow them to play enough once past Primary school?

So how can we bring back fearless play and incorporate Play-doh into other curriculum areas?

In the Edutopia article “15 ways to use Play-doh in the High School classroom” (Carrie Wisehart, 6th November 2017) she reminds us that “Create is at the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy. When students are forced to synthesize what they’ve learned and make a sculpture, they are doing some crazy critical thinking. Play-doh is a great way to keep students engaged, let them use their hands, employ creativity, and you can have a new and different form of assessment that is actually fun.”

We remember when we engage.

Real world play (a bit like imaginative play, make believe or role play) may well be the way forward for many of our older students. In the article, “How to bring Playfulness to High School students” (Zaidee Stavely Mindshift July 24th 2015) students are more motivated when faced with problems to solve that take them beyond the classroom walls. Arana Shapiro, director of school design at the Institute of Play, believes that “when you start with content, and then you think about play, you often think about a game like ‘Jeopardy’ and the facts that kids need to know. If you can really dig deeper into the understandings you want kids to have five or 10 years down the road, those are almost always real situations.”

Play lights up our brains

Elizabeth Perry, in her recent talk “Play On” at the Learning 2 conference in Warsaw, Poland, reminds us that almost all creativity involves purposeful play. She talks us through her own experiences of new learning and how she nearly gave up when faced with a failed drawing.

“stay playful by doing something badly, then keep doing it”

You can read more on the creative exploits and daily drawings of Elizabeth at her blog, Wool Gathering.

 MIT Mitchel Resnick

 

The Importance of Play

When trying out something new, play offers no boundaries and no assessment, allowing us the freedom to experiment to learn.

One of my most favourite TED talks, “Watch me play…the audience” shows Bobby McFerrin “playing” the audience as an instrument and tapping into their ability to learn music on the spot:

There is an inherent need for play in us all, whether just to let off steam, as an antidote to our stressful lives or as genuine therapy.

Child’s Play

Play therapy (for adults) is a thing. In fact, in the Telegraph article “What’s behind the infantilising trend for adult play?”(The Telegraph, 3rd March 2016) I discover there are “creative counsellors” helping clients to let go and revisit the footloose days of their childhood, playing with sand and wellness centres with therapeutic play practitioners. Husni Bey, founder of Creativity Unmasked, believes, “creative play can help connect us with the subconscious, free emotional blockages and develop our confidence, optimism, self-worth and personal growth.”

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Photo Credit: ClevrCat Flickr via Compfight cc

We get lost in play and stop thinking.

Popping up in the UK are adult soft play nightclubs. The first, in Birmingham at Amusement 13, hosted a “Regression Session”, with bouncy castle, a lego lounge and ball pits and BallieBallerson, in London, boasts 250,000 clear glow-in the dark balls in its adults-only ball pit bar, pulsing away to the music!

That’s it! I’m off to bounce away my Monday blues- care to join me?

 

Some of the most popular buys on Amazon this Christmas were adult colouring books and board games. In our busy and technology driven lives these retro tools give us a well earned breather and a step back into how it used to be before were were permanently connected.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my devices but we need to strike a balance and games, books and even jigsaw puzzles are a nod back to the days of calm and uninterrupted focused, unstructured play.

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Photo Credit: mondays child Flickr via Compfight cc

But is it just a fad or a need for nostalgia?

In the article “How jigsaw puzzles became the latest warriors in the battle against the digital revolution” (Telegraph, March 26th, 2017), Sara Allbright, senior buyer for John Lewis says, “People see it in terms of trends like mindfulness in a world of technology,” says Allbright. “Using things like jigsaws to re-engage and take a moment away from the day-to-day.”

What sort of play do you remember and what do you think of digital vs traditional methods of play?

Learning a new tool

Just this week, I attended the local ADE meet up where we were invited to play around with the relatively new tool Apple Clips on our phones. We were challenged to tell a story using simple images and video clips including natural, outdoor and close up shots as well as selecting from some quotes to include.

We had 20 minutes to collaborate with other ADEs, have fun and learn the tool. Chaos and laughter ensued. The results were hilarious, clever and downright silly (ours) but it took this unstructured play to let us loose with our creativity and get to grips with the app. Needless to say we will all be looking for ways to include it in our classes as a result.

Mark Anderson (@ictevangelist) has written a great post on using Apple Clips in different curriculum areas

https://ictevangelist.com/5-ways-to-use-apple-clips-in-the-classroom/

100 day project

This week I decided to commit to being more playful as a result of this post. I invite you to look at the 100 Day project, which originated in New Zealand or follow the posts on Instagram. Participants sign up online (this year’s starts on May 22nd) and commit to posting one creative thing every day for 100 days. Beck, an art teacher colleague, and I decided to both participate so we can encourage each other and track our creativity over time, much like how Elizabeth first started her daily 10 minute drawings.

Watch this space for the final (100) artworks.

What would you choose to do creatively daily for 100 days?

What would you like to pursue to bring back the child like playfulness in you?

What ways can you bring play into your classroom?