In a world dominated by technology there is growing recognition that face to face games can play a significant role in education.
I’ve always thought that when the high and mighty of the world’s governments and big businesses meet at the World Economic Forum they’re discussing the most pressing political, economic or social issues of the day – and let’s be fair there’s plenty for them to get their teeth into.
So I was a little surprised to read earlier in the year that the topic dominating the agenda was the importance of ‘real’ play.
The evidence that learning through play offers so much more to a child’s development is overwhelming. It can not only help a particular subject, like maths, but it also allows them to build fundamental life skills that can’t always be gained through a book or a search engine – learning to win and lose, interacting with others, reading body language, empathy and respect, developing strategies, solving problems – even better it’s fun.
However, the reason it suddenly appeared on the WEF agenda was because there is a growing body of opinion to suggest the decline in play has negative repercussions – some research even suggesting lack of play contributes to mental health problems. That’s why companies such as Unilever, The Lego Foundation, IKEA and National Geographic recently formed the Real Play Coalition in an attempt to increase more play opportunities within schools and cities.
I’ve been lucky enough to see hundreds of children benefit from playing games – and we set up PLYTIME to give more children the opportunity to learn through play. So I hope that schools and governments can be encouraged to introduce more play into the curriculum – I just hope they allow experts in play to implement it. Teachers are trained how to teach but they aren’t trained in how to play. With so many options and resources available for play, it requires expertise to ensure children to get the most out of play time.
As George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing.” Let’s make sure our children don’t stop playing because the people who make the decisions for them have forgotten how good it is.