“When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things”.
Games to Learn will challenge unthinking attachment to such concepts and ideas that had specific meaning in their context and time, but now inhibit human capacity to be constructive about our own times.
The verse from Corinthians is often used as an ‘explanation’ for removing ‘play’ from the adult human learning process. To be ‘adult’ is to be ‘serious’ – and yet even superficial observation of humanity proves the vital importance of ‘play’ to health, sanity and love of life.
The attitude implied by the biblical verse is a ponderous and weighty need for adult seriousness in all things, as [for example] in the traditional reliance on ‘teaching’ to induce ‘learning’ in formal educational settings.
As children, we have no need for such formality, so instinctively create learning environments that instinctively generate with fun and a lightness of heart, the ‘communication gestalt ’ (Duke 1974), with which to integrate the learning we require into activities replicating aspects of the adult world we know we must enter but find mysterious and even fearful.
But children’s play does not attempt to model that world in realistic detail (as the military would), nor does it overtly include ‘lessons’ to be learned (as in a religious approach). In fact children consider only that they are ‘playing’ and enjoying the moment. The ‘lessons’ learned can be quite unconscious, although profound and life shaping.
While workplaces as diverse as police services, airlines and armies use simulations and games to convey this ‘communication gestalt’ of the knowledge, behaviour and attitudes required for successful achievement of organisational goals, they are unlikely to connect child’s play with the ‘serious’ nature of what they are ‘teaching’. The pity of this is that allowing the fun and excitement of children’s play into the learning space could encourage a greater degree of enthusiastic participation, as well as drawing on individual creativity and self-motivation.
Expectations about learning as a ‘serious business’ create difficulties for educators wanting to generate powerful learning via apparently non-serious alternatives. Assumptions about the frivolity of play obscures the power of the insights about the vitality that play gives to learning, that we take for granted while we are children.
‘GamestoLearn” is a place for encouraging awareness of the vitality and impact emerging from the apparent ‘frivolity’ of play.