Can Play and Education Coexist?

Since I became a teacher I’ve always known that play is important in education.  I’ve always tried to incorporate a lot of play and exploration into my classroom. This has been a journey over the last four years. This year I have been able to take it to a new level. I have had a full class set of ipads all year and they provide amazing opportunities for me to let my students play. They help me focus on my students who need my help while we play and explore.

I have found several articles recently that point out the importance of play. Schools have become more of a play free area with the exception of a few small moments.  I’ve even had adults tell me that their children play too much at school.  Play has a  huge role in learning.  Play allows children to experiment without the fear of failure.  Play allows children to create things and use their imagination and wonder.  I think technology is going to play a huge role in the future of play in education.  An article by Stanford points out the importance of play in learning.

I’m in my fourth year of teaching and this year I have experimented with various ways of teaching.  I’ve used my class set of iPads to invigorate my students imaginations and set them free to explore and imagine their world.  I can’t possibly know how each of my 38 unique students learns best, but I trust that they do.  Even if they can’t put into words I can see that they know what they enjoy and what motivates them.

Play is also critical in learning.  The world is changing around us really fast.  My wife and I were at SXSW a few weeks ago and they were showing off 3d printers and virtual reality.  These new things will change the way we operate as a society.  They already have 3d printed housesself driving cars, and virtual reality that will all be mainstream in the next few years.  Imagine using Google cardboard to take your students on a virtual field trip to places they couldn’t go right now.  When talking about habitats we could actual see and explore them through virtual reality and give them an experience they won’t forget.

We are moving into a world where it will not just be the major companies with billions of dollars making things but everyday people that will be able to create and do things we never would have thought possible.  If we want students to be ready for these exciting opportunities we need to let them play.  We need to let them explore the boundaries of their imagination.  They need to be able to create and do things without the fear of failure.  That’s how they will become the great innovators of tomorrow and that’s how they will change their world.

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