Linked into the Education Universe: Mars, Minds, and Space

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 04, 2012 3:53 pm
PostPost subject: Linked into the Education Universe: Mars, Minds, and Space
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Continued from Linked In at the Play Tectonics Group Discussion Page. When finished, please return to the Play Tectonics Movement Group Page to join the discussion


In like manner of conversation and art, ‘a puppetry-based, paper play language’ unfolds in the hands of teachers and children of all ages in the box-shaped space of classrooms. Whereas ‘the education box without play’ locks participants into conventional, dull, pressurized, and restrictive experience, the play-filled box, along with everything inside it, takes on a life of its own. The key path in the play-based model is through communication. Obviously, this notion of a ‘handheld media device’ made of construction paper runs counter to the prevailing focus on technology. And that is precisely why it is so valuable.

When play is injected into communication, the combined physics compels, confronts, and entices. The symbolic tools and strategies of play-based communication move participants quickly past the objects themselves into the realm of the present and transcendent. While Mr. Sehgal uses basic communication as an artistic medium of words and questions, the play-based communication model uses ‘third parties’ in the form of symbolic paper concepts to ignite momentary experience—like a match sparking the heat and light of the moment. As puppetry-based art becomes constant in the communication channel, the element of Play naturally takes root in the learning culture.

The key difference between Sehgal’s communication construct and that of Play is the combination of evolutionary factors inherent in puppet play that constitute its neuroscience: in a “Temporal Act of Symbolic Art, Movement, the Hand, Play, and the Brain.”

This is not mere academic exercise. Given the ground-breaking brain-imaging research on Play and many years of in- classroom documentation that underlie the Play Tectonics Movement, it is no exaggeration to state that the powerful response of children to play-based communication is predictable and universal. It points to a communication pathway inherent in nature that is real and evident and waiting to be tapped. Play is a birthright that is nature’s original learning principle embodied in the heart and soul of children, if not in the physics of life itself.

In a learning culture buried under clutter, dictate, law, fear, passivity and inhibition, sweeping transformation can only be achieved by outsmarting and tricking it. In dealing with a learning culture that learned long ago, above all, to deflect innovation and lock down all that’s left inside, it is time for us to boldly identify the boundary line beyond which we say we will not go—where we take a stand to protect and defend the sanctity of children’s enriched intelligence. If we truly care, we must claim on their behalf the inalienable right of the young to learn in a culture free of political, commercial, and bureaucratic control. This is the legacy of authentic Play.

Play is the path to the future of learning. Providing, that is, if we choose to get on it. Children live out their childhood on this path. This is where our learning culture must meet and serve the young. Play is the singular planetary force at hand capable of moving education, in principle and practice, into a state of balance, grace and enlightenment in our relationship with the young.

There is so much we do now at our peril—but getting education to work in the image of children must become the paramount achievement of this century. For without a free, confident, and empowered generation of children to take the reins of their own future, our economy will continue its downward spiral without the power or human resources to innovate and drive it.

Regardless which field you call your own, adults everywhere can and must begin to help advance innovation in the learning culture in the here and now. Share this essay with your colleagues and family, sign my petition to Join the Call for an Education Declaration and Bill of Rights, and join Play Tectonics—the Movement to Transform the Learning Culture. You can support our mission by learning the language and methodology we have created and help put it into play in your local community.

Beyond parenthood, Education is the first full commitment we make as a society to love and support our young people. We can no longer leave it up ‘to the system’ to figure it out. We must stand to give the young ‘a learning habitat’ instead of the losing legacy of ‘the learning factory’. Education is the final frontier of human survival. If we fail to get Education right in our mass populated world, we will likely submit to the darker consequences of living in it.

Play and art are healing influences that can inform and shape a brand new world of learning. Within the soil of Play are the seeds of a new learning culture and subsequent new growth needed to neutralize the toxins of factory learning—stress, mean-spiritedness, adult disaffection, depression, alienation, herd behavior and group think.

We all know that we could and should do better for our young people, but no one else can be expected to stand and deliver the goods. It is up to us. Innovation must be borne forward—birthed, if you will, by determined people like you and me. Because Play is the birthright of the young, the time has come for adults to help move the learning culture forward into the light of Play.

Please return to the Play Tectonics Movement Group Page to join the discussion


Note: This essay was written in response to several posts by members of Linked-in groups I am connected with—specifically the Association of Children’s Museums. The posts focused on improving the quality of learning experiences and the level of involvement for parents, and for conducting effective venues outside the museums in the community. I have written before on this subject.

I am also addressing the need for organizations that serve children and families—like children’s museums—to take an active role in promoting change and transformation in the schools, as opposed to modules that support and reinforce conventional teach & test ‘standards of learning’.
The take away: we have technologized ourselves into passivity and false expectations. We have lost our way with play—kids are over supervised and spontaneous play outdoors is near extinct. The irony is that learning how to create and leverage relationships through play can easily and economically transform the way we reach and create spaces in which kids can learn to empower themselves. This will not happen, however, without people willing to step up and help carry the idea forward.
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