Monday, August 01, 2011

Learning Through Play

Some friends of mine whose child starts school this September, recalled the moment they decided to opt out of state education. They have instead chosen to spend a large amount of money that they can't really afford and will involve them making some real sacrifices.

They were being given a tour round a primary school and the teacher proudly indicated the complete absence of desks. She then enthusiastically announced that all learning was done 'through play' and every child would learn at their own pace, without any pressure. 'Happy children' was their goal.

My friends' hearts sank as they realised they were listening to an imbecile. Unfortunately this was their third and final possible school and they had heard very similar words twice before. (Peppered with phrases such as 'Child-centric', 'non-divisive', 'unpressured learning environment', 'happiness-focussed', understanding the individual', 'emphasising creativity and self expression' etc until they were about to scream).

They are intelligent people and realise that their child would probably thoroughly enjoy his time at any of the three schools. However they also realise that unfortunately, all children learn to do through play is, funnily enough- to play.

18 comments:

Julian S. Wood said...

Very Surprised at last comment!

Do you & your 2 friends know that in Finland-which supposedly has the best education system in the world-they don't start formal education till the age of 6.

Before this children learn entirely through an informal play-based system.

Some of my best 'results' have been in my role play area-my 'Batcave' produced amazing writing from 4 year olds!

You obviously haven't heard of Reggio Emilia either!

Frank-you need to do some research before coming out with blogging sweeping statements like that!

Anonymous said...

We had exactly the same experience when we looked round our local state primary. It was all 'learning through play'.

I just felt that the teacher should be stood at the front teaching them, otherwise why do you need a teacher at all?

Anonymous said...

There is a time for play and a time to learn through lead lessons, to misunderstand the place for each helps no one.

Anonymous said...

I remember enough of my time in infant and primary education, over 50 years ago, and remember how boring it was, not through lack of play but lack of inspiration in the teaching with everything having to be done at the pace of the slowest child in the class.
Proof again that everything is still being dumbed-down so no-one is upset by coming last.
Whether children start at 4 or 5 or 6 what is needed is inspirational teaching and children being pushed and stretched to fullfill their capabilities: and in-line with the communist manifesto "to each according to their needs": so children should receive an education appropriate to their abilities and IQ.

Anonymous said...

My heart sank when I read your blog. You are not a teacher.

Jon Haynes said...

I'm really concerned about this idea of just letting children fend for themselves or 'learn through play'. I want my child taught to read, write, sit still and listen by an intelligent teacher.

Is that really too much to ask for the amount of taxes we pay?

Julian S. Wood said...

Really out dated viewpoints.

A massive indication of a mind behind the times-not an educator or anyone remotely interested in child-centred learning.

Let's bring back the chalk board-school is not a place where children have fun!

Sad that author of blog hides behind anonymous users to back up own post!

A real shame author cannot respond to comments themselves-a clear statement of believing in his own hype.

I am sorry that you have now lost a subscriber.

Notthatstraightforward said...

Secondary school teacher? Say no more. :D

Anonymous said...

It was more fun in the war. we were mostly taught by young women who inevitably got spots , swelled up and left.
We had a male headmaster poor fellow being left with a school of brats when every other male was in uniform.
still we did learn to recognise a butterfly bomb and a colarado beatle. This was important at the time.

Anonymous said...

You need to remember that children in reception are only four or five years old. Learning by play is entirely appropriate for this age group, many of them are barely out of nappies.

Once they hit Y1, and start on the national curriculum properly then they are normally sitting at desks and doing formal work for much of the day. I'm a parent, and I support the EYFS being followed in reception. My eldest has just finished Y6 with very good test results - she didn't sit at a desk in reception, but could read fluently by the age of six.

Don said...

I don't think anyone's saying that infant classes shouldn't have an element of fun, nor that kids shouldn't necessarily enjoy their time at school.

But as they progress their way through Junior School, kids need to be taught: they need to develop reading, writing and numeracy skills. Otherwise the bright kids will get bored playing around all day and we'll end up with yet another generation of kids who start secondary school not being able to spell or add up properly.

Julian S. Wood said...

Completely agree Don.

But the article is talking about Reception class (Age 4) not Primary.

Although I'd encourage elements of play throughout KS1 & 2.

In fact there's a very successful Secondary in Bristol that integrates play into it's curriculum-so it can work for any age.

Such a shame that for some Play doesn't equate to learning-doubters need to see it in action!

Just to redress balance Don maybe you should have said another generation of kids leaving 'school' that can't read & write.

I see kids go up every summer to secondary school having 'basics' but within a year in Y7 reduced to gibbering idiots-that's a real issue and something we should debate.

Tefl Teacher said...

I was happy to see my kids playing at school - but that was 'play-school' kindergarten, and possibly reception year too. Is this what you're referring to, Frank?

Anonymous said...

Teachers have always been full of buzzwords. For some the concepts have a meaning but most are rather desperately looking for promotion by using language like this. I've heard it all the time in the staff room. drives me crazy. Just get on and do the teaching, leave out the waffle. that should be the school slogan. I Dont agree with private education.

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Anonymous said...

People seem to be missing the ´learning through play´title. It isn´t just playing. We ´learn´ by doing and being actively involved. Even as an adult I will switch off if I listen to someone drone on about something for half an hour. I learn a new skill by carrying it out practically and by being guided and encouraged.
It is easy and lazy to drone on at children and then ask them to complete a dull worksheet. Real teachers allow children to work together, practise a skill, share opinions. By careful observation and assessment they can then plan from where the child is at.
´Just playing´!!! People, you need to educate yourselves!

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