Sean Slade

Playing a Game Is the Voluntary Attempt to Overcome Unnecessary Obstacles

Last month we ran the theme of integrating movement throughout the school day (and outside of physical education classes). Obviously one place where this should be a no-brainer is recess. But it's been scary seeing how many schools and districts have been cutting back on recess time  to either provide enrichment classes or add additional academic study time into the school day.

In fact, the reason given why many of these schools are adding "enrichment classes" into recess time is because they have been pushed out of the daily schedule by academic cuts. And this is even though there have been countless studies showing and editorials discussing the benefits of play, whether it be for physical health, social and emotional health, all of the above, and even academic development.

One reason some principals give for eliminating recess is the lack of time in the school day to cover everything and "that there just is not enough time in the day to teach the essentials." But that then begs the question: what is truly essential in our schools if it isn't physical, social and emotional, and mental health?

So, why do we need recess? Why do we need to allow time to play? Jill Vialet, founder and CEO of Playworks—a whole child partner—sums it up succinctly in this recent TEDx talk from Albuquerque.


Worth watching! And if you miss it, remember the quote Jill uses from Bernard Suits:


"Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles."


Comments (3)

Karin Corona

December 31, 2011

I think you are correct is begging the question, what is truly essential in our schools if it isn’t physical, social and emotional, and mental health? There is definitely a disconnect between what educational institutions see as education and what child development research says is good for children. All the money that has been shelled out for “outcomes-based education” should be put into teacher re-training to teach to the whole child - to all the intelligences that children reveal to the adults in their lives if they were only allowed to do so freely.
I liked this TED talk - I think she could have gone much further if given the time. So much research backs up the idea of play as being essential to brain development from birth through adulthood - how can those in power continue to ignore this fact! We need to keep beating the “play” drum loudly and for all to hear. Future generations are depending on our advocacy for “play” education.

Celina Brennan

December 31, 2011

That same question stood out to me Karin! Sean, your thoughts are very powerful- nothing should be more important than the physical, social, emotional, and mental health of our students. Teaching core knowledge can be irrelevant when they encompass a stressful state of mind. Switching our own focus to the whole child is essential to promote positive student growth. We need to build a learning community that promotes diversity and focuses on individual needs, while letting them have time to be kids, play, explore and socialize.

P. A. Wray

January 26, 2012

You ask “how can those in power continue to ignore this fact!” is because play does not equal “good worker” in the economic culture in which we live.

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