Let Them Play!

My friend Tim Keller pointed me towards this video from a TED conference. It sums up what for me is the essence of education, particularly at primary school level. There is no doubt that children learn through play. They learn to respect others’ ideas, study processes when they make mistakes, engage with each other when a solution needs to be found.

It occurs to me that in our very ordered school lives, there is precious little time left to play. That old-fashioned idea seems to be left on the sidelines so that we can finish curricula, keep education authorities happy and feel good about “preparing the children for high school”. What are we doing? I refuse to believe that education is simply the transfer of knowledge from one to another. Our pupils need to be learning by doing. They need to be actively engaged in activities that force them out of their comfort zones so that they can learn to think creatively not only about the problems they face but about who they are as individuals. It is never too young to begin this process.

Parents, concerned with grades to “get into the best high schools”, are also to blame. Unneccesary and frankly, short-sighted, pressure to conform to an outdated philosophy of education is hurting our children and will hurt our nation in the years to come. Schools need to be engaged in education our children beyond the textbook and the classroom.

I am not saying for one moment that it is necessary to throw out formal examinations and set curricula. I am calling for an open-minded approach to education. An approach that believes that all children have an amazing ability to learn and grow when left to their own devices. An approach that seeks to guide learning rather than force it. An approach in which teachers are also learners. An approach where children can become “complete” and not just have the ability to obtain good grades. An approach which allows children to make mistakes without fear. An approach that gives pupils an opportunity to reflect on their actions and doesn’t need them to write a story about it!

Come on teachers! Come on principals! Come on parents! Come on education authorities! Isn’t it time for a new day in education? We can have all the techno-wizardry in the world in our schools but that does not make a school progressive. The very essence of our school is our philosophy of education and in the way it is brought to life by our teachers.

Watch this and be inspired :