Play Is Hard Work, Part 1

Play should be the cornerstone of much of what we do with technology for teaching and learning. Heck, play should comprise a considerable chunk of all of our learning time. But what does play look like in a digital environment? How can we create playful spaces around serious topics? And are play and fun the same things?
In this session, we’ll privilege habits over tools and explore play and playfulness with whatever gadgets, gizmos and whatnots we have in our classrooms. #

That description was just about right – but it missed something.  I realized as I was trying to build the session that I didn’t have the language, or the framework, to talk about what I meant by “play” and “playfulness.” #

  1. Oddly, other definitions contradict that one that I find so essential.  And others still add flavor to the word.  It’s amazing, or troubling, that such a small word has so much baggage. []
  2. You should buy the book.  It’s a quick read – I read it in an hour – but it gave me the language I needed to talk about play and playfulness. []
  3. Of course, I think I’ve known this for a long time, but I’m at a place where I’m seeing implications beyond classrooms, and it’s never a bad idea to try to sketch this stuff out. []
  4. I don’t say this to knock the department as it was – it was good in lots of ways.  There was room to grow, though, which is one reason I went there almost five years ago now. []

5 thoughts on “Play Is Hard Work, Part 1

  1. Bud, you have a knack for really getting at the heart of topics. I’m really glad you’re thinking, exploring and writing about play. Play is something I’ve been very interested and I still feel that I’m just exploring what it means in the context of learning and, especially school.

    Your statement about community building is an important one. It helps me to think of community as relationships. We are constantly building and maintaining relationships. Classroom relationships can and should be playful and being so adds to the learning community significantly for not only children, but the adults as well. I’m looking forward to reading more of your experiences and thoughts around this near and dear subject.

  2. The more I read about play in education, the more I am convinced this is the way we should be moving. And you are right…play is (ironically) hard work. I wrote about my experience playing in the classroom ( and it is definitely something I need and want to explore more. Thanks for your thoughts and all the resources.
    Rebekah (@ndbekah)

  3. I am so conflicted. My students want to play all the time and play for them in the 6th and 8th grades often looks like playing Temple Run, Bubble Ball, or other games or watch YouTube videos on our class iPads. Or they will hang out and good off or socialize at the expense of learning Science. I’m not sure of your definition of play includes that. I can’t seem to convince my students that the a science we’re doing can be fun. I joke around with and laugh with my students in every class, all day, every day. That is how I cope with the stress of battling off task behaviors every single day.

    So I’m curious and very open to ideas for incorporating play AND having kids learn Science. I want to be able to face my school board, my principal, my parents and my kids and justify what they are doing in my room every day. Right now I tell kids that I can’t tell their parents that I am in favor or that I support them playing games and socializing every day at the expense of doing their work. Even if I call their work play they will still prefer temple run over punnett squares (even if it’s SpongeBob genetics!).
    Alfonso Gonzalez´s last blog post ..Not Against Competition

  4. I really enjoyed this post and look forward to more. I appreciate your definition of “play” and the differentiation between “play” and “fun” which is an important distinction to make. The notion of play in classrooms, office spaces and meeting rooms is something that (if implemented correctly) could be integral to improving learning and productivity as it allows people space to step out of their own comfort zones and begin to foster a more creative sense of community. As I get ready to embark on a new career path, this notion of “play” is one I am going to take with me.
    Tiffany Reifschneider´s last blog post ..Conditions of Satisfaction: What do you need to be successful?

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