Summer Symposium 2016: Constructing a Pedagogy of Play

Summer Symposium 2016: Constructing a Pedagogy of Play

In May of 2016, Matt and Susan sat and listened while a group of fourth and fifth graders discussed the power of play.  Over the course of thirty minutes, they constructed metaphors and theories reflecting on the pedagogy of play they’ve steeped in.  As often happens in open dialogs, provisional ideas were freely shared and some were found stickier and more helpful than others.  Then, Aoife said, “Play is what stops complacency” – and everybody gasped.  Camille agreed: “Play is everything complacency is not.”

In June, Opal School and the Portland Children’s Museum Center for Learning were be thrilled to welcome 250 participants to Opal School’s 16th annual summer symposium.  Together, we examined this powerful antidote to complacency that the world needs now.  We investigated big, juicy questions that sit at both the core and the frontiers of our work:

How might we construct a pedagogy of play?  What habits of mind, tools, and dispositions are required to do so?

How might a pedagogy of play support children?  What are the costs of not embracing a pedagogy of play?  

How might a pedagogy of play be expressed in different contexts?

What systemic elements sustain a pedagogy of play? 

In addition to the Opal School Online content which you’re probably becoming familiar with, we’ve selected two texts to support participants’ shared thinking:

The Deliberate Amateur, a chapter from Sarah Lewis’ The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery and

Play as Self-Realization: Toward a General Theory of Play by Thomas S. Henricks

Those two readings were created apart from our study – and we’d like to use the vast and varied perspectives of all of you to create new texts related to our questions.  We’re hoping that as you think about the big questions we’ve proposed, you’ll share your thoughts with each other through the course group page and forum.  You might enter your reflections, ideas you hear expressed in these presentations that feel powerful, links to other relevant texts, photos – you name it.  

As with all content on Opal School Online, course content is copyrighted and all rights are reserved. We are a not for profit organization dedicated to strengthening education by provoking fresh ideas concerning environments where curiosity, creativity and the wonder of learning thrive.  Please think before you share. Your support allows us to continue. And we thank you for it!

This course is offered exclusively to Opal School Online members. Not yet a member? Join us!

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Course Materials

Recommended Reading: Nonsense by Jamie Holmes, Rise by Sarah Lewis, Art and Experience by John Dewey

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