Two cats sit side-by-side on orange rug. One has serious expression with a paw out; one is actively yawning

Play in Education

 Published on May 20, 2015 /  Written by , , and /  “Ha Ha Ha!!!” by Helen Haden; CC BY-NC 2.0 /  3

Why isn’t school more fun?

Fred Rogers, famous in America for creating Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, said, “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” Why do we assume, though, that adults don’t also learn from play? In this episode, I assert that “serious learning” happens through play at any age, and that a playful approach to classes, professions, and identity has benefits that too often get ignored in academia.

Unfortunately, school is often anything but playful. Between compulsory attendance, state-mandated testing, and the regimented routine of bell schedules, students are often expected to conform and comply, rather than to improvise and experiment. It seems there should be a way to incorporate play into education, making school something that students enjoy, look forward to, and find productive.

Adeline Koh writes that “play is serious business,” and this episode explores that assertion and tests the ways in which it can be applied to today’s educational environments.

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Chris Friend is managing editor for Hybrid Pedagogy.

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3 Responses
  1. Chris! How am I just finding you? I guess my kids were right…I need to get off Facebook and on to Reddit!

    I am finishing my MA in Social and Cultural Pedagogy at Arizona State University in December and my area of study is play across the lifespan (because just try googling “adult play” lol). We are starting a social pedagogy association if you are interested in joining us.

    Super excited to find your post and listen to the audio. When I saw the headline, I thought it would just be about K-12 education, so I’m delighted to see you’re discussing play for adults as well.


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