Are you bolting-on or blending-in?

My last blog post before I head-for-the-hills (literally!) is around a topic that is causing me some interest and reflection: “Play-Based Learning”.

Over the past 30 years plus we have seen some schools swing from one idea to another with a concerning lack (in some cases) of deep or wide thought.

  1. iPads at pre-schools and children spending countless hours glued to a screen

  2. Inquiry learning where children followed a set model, even if it was restrictive to the natural flow of learning.

  3. Whole language approach that saw a generation of learners unable to spell.

  4. Conversely the phonics approach that saw learners disconnected from rich texts.

Sometimes we can be like a bunch of magpies, rushing towards the next shiny thing. There is also an underpinning fear that if we don’t do it, we will be seen as less progressive.

I wonder if we are doing the same with Play-Based Learning. Are we grabbing at models, matrixes and programmes (and countless MOE PLD hours) that see it as a bolt-on to the rest of classroom practice? We have hundreds of schools allocating specific time for Play-Based Learning, then move back to their ‘normal’ classroom programme for the rest of the day.

Maybe we need stop and think…

  • What are the philosophies that underpin the concept of Play-Based learning?

  • What are the pedagogies that support it?

If we were to do this, then couldn’t we move away from a bolt-on approach to a more integrated approach?

Would it then become a “Learning through experience” or “Learning through talk” philosophy and pedagogy?

If we were to circumvent the current bolt-on group-think and consider these questions (and others), what would that mean for your whole curriculum?

How would it look if learners were able to learn through:

  • investigations

  • experience

  • talking

  • inquiring

  • projects

  • problems

This requires a philosophical and pedagogical shift. It requires schools to go deep with their curriculum.

So I implore you to consider, are you bolting-on or blending-in your approaches?

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