This is the question I often get asked about play-based learning. There is a widespread notion out there that play-based learning is something that is separate from the curriculum — that students who are engaging in play are getting a “break” from the curriculum, from the work, from “school”. Teachers struggling to make sense of it often complain that “play-based learning” is just one more thing they have to try to fit into their busy schedules. Parents worry that “play” means that their child isn’t “working” in school — completing worksheets, sitting and listening as teachers tell them what they need to know for “Grade One”.
This week I’ve had the opportunity to discuss at length some current issues in education with my colleagues, with parents, and with members of my online professional learning community. Through my many musings, I’ve been left with one burning question:
How did it all get so off track?
The goal of education is simple. Learning. That’s what we want. And we want it for everyone.
Learning to communicate. To collaborate. To think critically. To be creative. To build character. To encourage citizenship.
Our kindergarten curriculum in this province has been designed to guide teachers in their practice to work alongside children to develop these skills. Here is a link to the Program Design and Components Section of our NL Kindergarten Curriculum Guide.Please take the time to read this document. It outlines very well what kindergarten classrooms are supposed to look like. In fact, there are even a few photos.
My question remains: How did we get so off track?
How did so many people start to believe that kindergarten was some kind of training program for grade one? Where did they get the idea that children were supposed to sit in an assigned seat for hours upon hours each day, completing worksheets and being afraid to speak for fear of being reprimanded? Where did they get this notion that school is where you complete “work” in order to “play”?
What’s even scarier to me is that parents are NOT asking questions of teachers like:
How are you allowing my child to express their CREATIVITY and think CRITICALLY?
What experiences are helping my child to COLLABORATE and COMMUNICATE?
How are you helping my child build CHARACTER and become a good CITIZEN?
I would really love to know what YOU think. How did it all end up this way? And what can we do moving forward?
Dedicated teacher for the past 15 years. Lifelong learner. Newbie blogger. Follow me on Twitter @Baker1973Cathy