Much is known about the importance of play in children’s development, yet little research has explored what it might mean to put play at the heart of schooling. In 2015, the Pedagogy of Play (PoP) research project began exploring just that.
Perhaps the simplest way to understand PoP is through the “paradoxes of playful learning.” ISB is a school and, as such, must be safe and orderly. At the same time, we want our students (and teachers) to take risks, make messes, and get lost in the moment. Figuring out how to pull more “play” onto the “school” side of this line – that is the goal of PoP.
Check out this video for one example of how ISB is rising to the challenge.
At ISB, we want learning to be playful. But how do we know when we’re succeeding? One of the first developments to come out of PoP was the “indicators of playful learning,” a graphic overview of what we’re hoping to see (and feel) in the classroom. It’s the basis for almost everything we do.
The foundational values driving our work with PoP.
- Play with an educational purpose
- Learners leading their own learning
- Experiencing choice, wonder, and delight
- Connecting life inside and outside the classroom
- Learners reflecting on playful experiences
- Cultivating a culture of playful learning for adults
- Fostering trust and welcoming negotiation
- Collectively studying the paradoxes between play and school
These tools for playful practitioners have been created by ISB teachers. We also use a variety of other tools for reflection, documentation, and discussion, created by our friends at Project Zero. You can find them here.
Pictures of Practice
These case studies offer in-depth illustrations of what a pedagogy of play looks like in action, from the classroom to the playground, to school-wide rituals, and the adult learning community.
Popatplay is a mental playground (aka blog) administered by Project Zero, highlighting some of the current thinking around the Pedagogy of Play project. As the blog grows, you’ll find posts written by Project Zero researchers, ISB staff and teachers, and researchers and teachers at some of the other schools collaborating with PoP, for example in South Africa.