Thursday, January 21, 2010

Learning Through Play

I used to blog for my old company, but they took the blog down. I am
not actually allowed to own the writings I put up on that blog, but as
I reference them on occasion in my writing I am putting those articles
up in my archives here for reference sake. I'll put the tag GS on those
articles noting that they were originally published on the

Learning Through Play

June 11, 2008 – 12:46 pm by Brendan

As a dad one of my favorite sites is DIY Father. As a teacher I’m pretty well versed in child development theory, but as a teacher I know we should always be learning something new. I’ve also found that the best lessons come from the most unexpected places.

In the past I’ve tried to explain in my Quality Education series how to get children excited about learning and how to foster learning opportunities. I find it difficult to explain mostly because it isn’t something I’ve ever tried to explain or ever heard anyone try to explain. I’m sure someone has written a scholarly article about how and why it works, but what I would really like to do is get regular people like you and I to use it in our daily life with our children and or students.

So here we are with a Lesson from Africa on DIY Father that embodies the idea behind learning opportunities and getting children excited about learning. Here, in this third hand version of the story, children don’t have endless supplies of toys and video games to spark (or dull) the imagination. [Now I wish I had bookmarked that story about how video games stunt the growth of the frontal lobe of the brain decreasing impulse control] What the youngest children do all day is follow the mother around. Usually, they end up mimicking the actions of the mom, either pretending to make fire, or pretending to wash dishes, or whatever.

What the children are really doing is learning how to do what the mother is doing. Later when the boys are old enough I’m sure they will be sent to hang with the father all day. There they will learn the actions and roles of the father.

This is the essence of intrinsic learning, children entertaining themselves with whatever they have available. In so doing they are learning the skills they need to graduate from childhood into adulthood. That is also the aim of educational systems. Schools are here to educate students with the information and skills they need to survive in adulthood. What that information and skills are, is a can of worms I might discuss in another long, very very long, set of articles, but I kind of doubt it.


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