The positive effect of play on children’s intellectual, social, emotional, and physical development has already been well-documented, and we take it as given that bringing more play into the institutions tasked with nurturing these skills can only be a good thing.

In other words, the why of playful learning has been covered.

What we’re exploring now, through PoP, is the how.

  • How can a school balance the need for safety and order with the qualities of risk and chaos that make play such a powerful force for learning?
  • How can teachers say “yes” more often to student initiative, without compromising curriculum goals and standards?
  • How can administrators support teachers in stepping back to let students lead the way?

Thanks to a generous grant from the LEGO Foundation, ISB teachers have been able to spend the last three years learning, hypothesizing and experimenting with these, and other, questions alongside our good friends at Project Zero, a research organization based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  While the ideas that flow from this project are developed with and for ISB, we hope that the practices, strategies, and questions raised may inspire many other educators around the world.


Research papers

While PoP research is still very much in process, we take this opportunity to share two working papers that highlight some emergent findings and hypotheses.

The first, Towards a Pedagogy of Play, situates the research in the fields of play and learning and presents promising theories around the objective and subjective nature of learning through play.

The companion paper, Playful Participatory Research, explores a new model of collaborative research and takes a deeper dive into the work with ISB.