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Play is essential, but it takes work for children to succeed in the real world

The Guardian – Tom Bennett

“Advocates of this approach – learning through play – have been around since the 19th century and you can see it clearly in the methods of schools such as Montessori and Steiner. It’s had a huge influence on early years education, for obvious reasons, but it’s often used in much later settings as a justification for things such as Minecraft lessons. In this hypothesis, much of what traditional schooling embodies is what is wrong with education itself. Play is self-directed; work is given to you. Play is enjoyable; work is often not. Play is spontaneous; work is planned and goal-oriented. Away with the tyranny of the expert teacher, the formal curriculum, the school rules! Learning through play will free the slaves of the classroom! But here’s the rub: it won’t. Play, it seems, is a very powerful vehicle for what we might call “folk” learning – the basic components of understanding reality. But it’s not so great once you want to do anything beyond that. Take catching a ball. In its first few comedic years, a child will learn to have a good idea of how far a ball can be thrown by hand and so on. Now underpinning all of that is Newtonian physics, ballistics and mathematics.”(more)

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