Articles and Resources about Play

I follow an educator named John Spencer. He’s been an advocate for play, inquiry-based learning, makerspaces, and much more for years. His focus is on the classroom, mainly, but a lot of what he says and advocates for is highly applicable to the library programming setting. We don’t often have consistent access to the same people the way teachers do, but his discussions on mindset and play are certainly adaptable to what we do.
His latest article is “7 Ways to Integrate Curiosity into the Classroom” and I found it to be a wonderful read. One of the things he says in the article struck me:

…but the idea was that in that single moment when your curiosity is sparked, you should chase it. If you put it off until later, you miss something in the process. Those questions evaporate. But when you chase the curiosity in the moment, you end up asking better questions and learning more in the process. Yes, there’s a time for deadlines and it’s true that we sometimes need to get back on task. But there’s a place for going off-road and wandering in wonder.

I think that this is an underlying goal for most (all?) of us when we’re doing any sort of programming. We want to give our participants the tools that allow them to explore a topic of interest as far as they can, far past the hour or two they spend in our care. We want to spark that curiosity, often through play and creativity, that leads them in unexpected directions. And maybe even helps create a future doctor or philosopher or painter or anything else.

What do y’all think?

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I love love love this! Melissa, thank you for sharing.

And I love all informal learning spaces like libraries, museums, makerspaces, and other out-of-school opportunities. School curriculums and standards often put too much pressure on teachers and students. So I totally agree with you on your point about the library programming setting!

I really like the question framing tool he provides in this article. To me, it reminds me that we may take so much around us for granted, that we forget how to be curious and wonder. I’m looking at some nail polish on my desk—how does nail polish work? Why does it stick on my nails better than glue?

What are some things around you that you could start being curious about? And can we make the time to explore that curiosity together?