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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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