If you knew something magic that could change someone else's life for the better would you share it with them or would you keep it to yourself? Would you let it slowly burn inside you hidden away or would you, with great haste, go and tell that someone straight away? I'd like to think that we'd definitely share it and that we'd accept it would be wrong to keep it to ourselves.
You might not think that you have something magic to share but you do. The problem is that before you can share it you have to find it! You probably don't necessarily know that it's even there to be found, but believe me it is. The reason that you may not be able to find it is that you live a life in which there is a clamour of voices and distractions and problems and bills and family and relationships and self-image and on and on that drown out the knowledge of the magic that is whispering away inside of you.
The magic I'm referring to is the knowledge that there is such a thing as the magic of play. Or to be more precise the magic of children's play. Not the adult idea of what play is but what play truly is, driven, controlled, imagined by children. Deep within you, you know that this play is glorious and amazing and bursting with potential. It doesn't require reams of research to understand the value of play. It doesn't need academia to rubberstamp it. Play just is the one true way that children learn, grow and create themselves. And you know this, You know that this is the magic. The knowledge that child-led play is THE way must burn away in you otherwise why would you be working with young children?
And yet, in spite of knowing that play is the way you find yourself turning your back on play and instead stand at the photocopier printing worksheet after worksheet, get children to do things so that parents approve, or teach themes to four year olds that they have little interest or connection with. There are two reasons for this:
1: The clamour emanating from the Adult World that emphasises data, measurability, progress, closing gaps completely tramples over the world of children and their play. Play isn't seen as 'learning', it isn't viewed as part of proper school so we bow to the demands of the Adult World.
2: You've always done it.
You choose to turn your back on play so as to please the Adult World or because over time you've come to believe that what you do is 'play' or the 'right thing'. The word 'choice' is key here. I believe that how we teach our Early Years is just that. We have a choice. We either allow children magic or we allow them not-magic. There's no Wood Between The Worlds when it comes to play. You're either in or out...
Over the course of these blogs I'm going to be exploring how this magic can come about, how we can challenge ourselves to embrace true play and how in doing so we can still meet the demands of the Adult World. I won't pull any punches and yes I'm evangelical about play. And why? Because I found its magic inside me and I don't want to keep it to myself. Didn't we agree at the top of the page that if we knew something that could change a life then we'd share it...?
Image credit: Kecky, The Wood Between the Worlds
Can I Go Play Now..? is committed to widening the understanding of the magic of children's play as an educational tool. Child-centred, play-based learning is where it's truly at....