Saturday, 26 November 2016

Re-defining play and education

In Swedish we have two words... utbildning and bildning... for education... bildning is similar to the German word Bildung as well...
its not that often that the English language lacks compared to the Swedish... but in this instance it really does...
sometimes bildning is translated as cultivate... but I feel a bit iffy about that too...
UTbildning is the word used for education in school... "ut" means out... as if it comes from one person and is transmitted to another... bildning is about learning and can be done as a self process...

The word bläckfisk is the Swedish word for squid... it is also the Swedish word for octopus and cuttlefish...

It might seem like a big jump to go from education to squid in this way... but bare with me... 
The word PLAY is complex... and similar to "bäckfisk" it does not have just one meaning...
There are many forms of play... free play, role play, adult-lead play, child-lead play, playing with words, playing sports, musical instruments, risky play., digital play.. etc etc etc

I feel all forms of play are important and that there needs to be space and time for all forms too... and that there is not necessarily a hierarchy of what sort of play is the most important, but that having a combination, a varied play diet is what is important.

We have to expand what we mean by play... what we mean by education and not be limited by it...

Swedish is limited in its "bläckfisk" as a word for three different species, as English is limited by the word education... 

The word maybe does not reflect the sort of learning we need in schools for the learning we need TODAY...

So its up to all of us to re-define play...
we also need to redefine education

are people seeing education only as academics?
from the Free Dictionary









If education is being mistaken in the sense of academical as "conforming to set rules and traditions; conventional" which I feel it often is with standardisations and testing... then what are we learning, and how useful is this really to us as a society stepping ever further into the future?

Is education different from learning?
Play and learning... play IS learning... learning is play. 
Is play non-learning ever? Is play only for play's sake... or is it that we don't know the value of the play and how it can impact the future?






These are areas I will be exploring more in the new year. I have four weeks more working as an early years teacher and director. Then I will be devoting 6-8 months to researching and writing a book... exploring ideas and finding a way to support teachers to explore ideas, explore their role as an educator and as a team... with their co-workers and the children.

2 comments:

  1. I often wonder if all forms of play are learning as people now seem to define which kids of play are good/bad for children. Why are some of ways of playing timed? Are they bad for you? If competition gets in the way, is it still play? When do we stop playing or do we?

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  2. Education implies someone is instructing or being instructed. Learning sounds better because it can happen without instruction. Play is "the thing". It resists simple single interpretation, which is its strength, but also what makes so many want to co-opt it. We shouldn't limit its definition, but celebrate what happens through play. Too often we seek to convince others of the seriousness of early learning by finding another word. When I was studying for my Pre-school Playgroup Diploma, they tried to change the organisation name to take the word play out, to give it more recognition. As if. Shouldn't we reclaim this word, defend it, justify it, celebrate it and make it the cornerstone of our practice. Shakespeare wrote many "plays", another form of this most slippery of words. His plays were a way of seeing the world, a unique vision of humanity in which there are no easy political answers, rather contradictions, tragedies, comedies, and all the playfulness that comes with an understanding of humans in their infinite variety. My DIY-loving father talks about "play" when something he is making hasn't been screwed in tightly enough - it is when something has room to move, space to move in ways unintended. If "play" can be the vehicle for children to have enough space to discover their own learning, then maybe they don't need "education" to lead them there.

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