Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Play needs to be taught

The sad fact is that kids in high school have forgotten the joy of play. Have a look in a playground and actually observe what they are doing. Some are on iPods, others are sitting, very few are actually engaged in any sort of play.

I experimented in my classroom and brought in that archaic form of entertainment - the board game. My experience and success has been mixed but I have discovered a lot about my kids.

Ticket to ride (a game of networks, decision making and probability) was successful as long as I moderated the game. If I walked away students couldn't play. Carcassone (similar in mathematics outcomes) was fun but students in lower classes found sitting still for 45 minutes nearly impossible.

In another session with my top group, I seeded each group with members that knew the games and asked them to explain to the others. Within 15 minutes each group had put the game away and sat talking. They just couldn't see the point. Each wanted instant gratification and could not see how engrossing themselves in a task such as this would provide this.

Now we might say that there is a generational gap and they have better games (such as Playstations and the like) yet in hindsight most wanted to try again and were more engaged on the second attempt. My conclusion was that it wasn't that they didn't like the idea of a game but that their experience in play was very limited.

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