Playing in public

There’s so much buzz around the notion of play at the moment. I know for sure that when my students play, they get lost in the activity and find that the learning the seamless. There’s informal and formal play as I am seeing it, with some fantastic game-play models and concepts offered by
Minecraft and Quest Atlantis, to name a few. I have been particularly interested in what the gaming element of play can offer my learners, and I am looking forward to continuing my exploration with Bron Stucky, Ben Jones and Adrian Camm.

Play is possibly more of an attitude than an activity. With playfulness comes a sense of light-heartedness, a time to make memories and a critical element of flow. Imagination and creativity are fundamental outcomes of play.

So it’s a great day when playfulness is at the core of business. At yesterday’s TeachMeet, we had a shift in the way presenters used their 7 or 3 minutes spots. This began with Lou and Channie dressing as mad professors and talking about play in science. Their observations cemented wheat we know; when kids are playing, they are creating, they are learning and they are happy. Isn’t this fundamentally why we teach? To help kids be happy in their learning. Chris then modelled basic song creation using the iPad, which, in his words ‘is just lots of fun to use’. Chris has so much fun playing with the iPad, he encouraged us to play, and then see how we can share this fun with learners. Chris then modelled this favourite tool by ‘playing in public’ as we live-created a silly and fun tune, while the #tmSydney audience (and livestream no doubt) were in hysterics!

What’s interesting is that this notion of play got the audience thinking about how they could use this tool in their learning. The play modelled the tool, made the static dynamic, built a connection with other people and lightened the tone of the learning session. A great outcome indeed!

Claire Price offered the room paper and pencils for her session ‘drawing as a thinking tool’. Claire is an advocate for using sketch and drawing to bring about creativity and communication. What I saw was a lot of people sharing and talking as they were asked to trace their hand, and then elaborate on the details of the person’s hand next to them. What came out of this playful activity was a lot of connections between people. Some of the sketches were simple, but as others commented and elaborated, confidence was built, and people started drawing what they could see ‘into’ rather than what was at face value.  I have added a simple GIFvid; Hands to the Playing In Public (Art) PLN Challenge. What can you contribute?

So to play in public is actually a really significant thing to do. It’s a critical thing to do. If the outcomes show us that people are more connected, confident, relaxed and happy in play, and learning happens in the best possible way; deep, collaborative and memorable, then why don’t we value play as much as we should?

Summer Howarth

I'm driven by student engagement, by working with people who are invested in a notion that we need to work together to shape an education worth having for all young people. I am on fire with ideas; shaped by the people I've met and work with, the possibility of education and a future of what the teaching profession could be. I am deeply passionate in advocacy for Middle Schooling and young people, directing my energies to causes promoting the efficacy of the teaching profession through strengthening the experiences of learners; influencing students and student teachers. When I am able to personally connect with people from my online Professional Learning Network (PLN) I am further inspired to learn more, think widely and dream up better things for students. Currently working with teachers and stakeholder from across Australia and colleagues at The Innovation Unit on Learning Frontiers. #lovingit. Continue the conversation on Twitter; @EduSum


  1. Playing makes the learning more fun…or is it learning makes the playing more fun… Having Year 5s use playdough this week reinforced it with me.

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