I loved to play as a child, lost in my brain as I imagined worlds beyond my own and situations I hadn’t experienced. Playing allowed me to create - worlds, things, ideas.
I like to think that I am still a playful person (indeed I am often called silly) but do I play? In the middle of a life full of deadlines and appointments and marking - where is my play? I love to read, I love my job, but has play left my vocabulary as something I do?
I don’t think so. Not always. I remember first finding Scratch back in 2007 wanting to see what it does. I made program after program trying different computer science techniques and strategies. (I have a Computer Science background). I made the most hilarious concurrent program of three philosophers sharing a fork - and had Scratch solve the philosophers dilemma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dining_philosophers_problem). I remember showing this program to my 15 year old students that year and they didn’t quite understand a) why I found it funny and b) its importance. But it sparked three months of play and exploration as I taught my first class of grade 10 students about computer science using Scratch before moving on to a typed language.
And it’s amazing, that when I consider it, I still allow my grade 10s to play and it can be so hard to have them just explore. Even by 15 everything needs to be right the first time. I use words like drafts, prototypes, incremental designs. And still by 15 so many of them just want to know what to do to get from A to B. But I can usually, hopefully, find a way to pull them into exploring.
But I don’t allow that opportunity for my grade 12s (17 year olds) and this week’s topic makes me wonder why something I encourage and direct my grade 10s (15 year olds) is something that I don’t consider for my grade 12s. My grade 12 assignments are full of requirements and specifications. They’re open ended but not in the same way. How can I change that?
We have municipal elections coming up in a couple weeks and I know I wanted to have my grade 12s explore e-voting and more generally electoral systems of voting in groups. Now I am thinking about how to get that creative learning spiral into that exploration. How can I encourage them to think outside the box while still making my principal happy by ending up with something I can mark?
Lots of questions. I’m going to keep thinking of answers.