Weekly Reflection: The importance of play

Cricket Ball
Imaged used under creative commons licence

On a sunny afternoon this week I ventured out with the rest of the teachers in my school to take part in a cricket skills workshop. I wasn’t particularly enthused by the prospect of spending time learning about cricket. I’m an avid gym goer and for the life of me can’t understand the reason why people would want to spend hours running around after a ball. Nevertheless, PE is an important part of the curriculum so off I trudged in the summer heat to learn more about cricket.

The workshop itself taught us just a few basic skills to get us started but there was something about learning how to throw, bat, catch and run between the wickets that seem to re-energize even the most adverse of ball sport participants. Which was the primary purpose of the workshop. If I’m not enthused about the prospect of ball sports, that attitude is going to show in my teaching. I can still cover the material but there’s no way I can fake passion.

One cricketing skills workshop hasn’t changed my outlook on ball sports nevertheless I did throughly enjoy myself. It wasn’t the game itself, but being outside with teachers learning a new skill, laughing at my own and others follies and getting some exercise that I really enjoyed. Cricket in this case just happened to be the medium but it could easily have been bullrush, flying kites or even catching bubbles.

As I was leaving the field I quietly mused how much we underestimate the importance of play in school. We know that play helps foster creativity, perseverance and team work in both adults in child. Yet is play something we value in schools?

To be sure most schools have play time. But isn’t the very fact that we need schedule time for the kids to play outside the classroom show how we little value play in learning?

Do we play with ideas or concepts or in the rush to make sure we cover all the necessary parts of the curriculum do we miss out time for ‘unproductive’ play?

Does teachers professional learning reflect the importance of play? How often do you play games or hear laughter during your professional learning? How much of your professional learning happens outside?

Because really shouldn’t  learning be an excuse to eat an ice block for dinner?

2 thoughts on “Weekly Reflection: The importance of play

Add yours

  1. You are very correct, we often underestimate the importance of play and when times get busy it is often the thing that gets skipped.
    Your comment about not being able to fake passion is also very true. I have tried to take the lack of passion I have for creating visual art into a teachable moment. Letting the students know that I am uncomfortable with people seeing art that I have created, but then demonstrating that art is achievable by planning and following a process, has helped me engage with success a lot of students that really did not like art. As an added bonus, I have also really improved with my artistic ability and my students (7 and 8 years old) say I am a fantastic artist 🙂
    PS: You never need an excuse to have an ice block for dinner on a hot day.


  2. I love cricket! Sounds like you had a fun time. You are right about how the education world can stifle us and our students with ‘must do’ ‘ must catch up’ etc. I get hooked into it and then wonder why its stress city. Some of our earlier NZ educators had the right idea.

    And ice blocks, ice blocks after lunch on a hot day can do wonders too! I feel a trip to the supermarket coming on before school tomorrow!


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