I’ve been feeling a little downhearted this year about education and the way things are going for children in some schools, about their learning and play. So it was uplifting to come across this little film showing something different. And as it’s the shortest day, with the most dark and least light, I thought I’d share it with you.
The film was made during one normal lunch time in a Bristol school that is lucky enough to have lots of different green space, and wise enough to let children use it freely. They have bits of constructed equipment and various ‘stuff’ scattered around and – apart from adult presence as supervision – children seem to just get on with it.
At first, you’ll think ‘OK, great, children playing…’ and you might want to stop it right there, particularly when life is busy. It’s only showing what we all did after all.
But look again, and watch all of it, closely. Because children don’t often get the chance to play so freely like this anymore, not in all schools anyway.
And if you watch to the end, what you actually see happening over just one lunch break is amazing: the big range of free play – active or quiet – that children engage in, alone or together; their different interests, motivations, skills and abilities; the levels of physical activity they naturally choose; their enjoyment and delight in it all; and the phenomenal amount of learning that is naturally happening.
And then, within that, other things: imagination, exploration, creativity, innovation; risk taking; problem solving; co-operation; collaboration… Watching it all, you almost feel the children have done their most important learning right there, before they queue up to go back to class.
And at a bigger level, it makes me feel (once again) that children don’t so much need adults teaching and telling and testing and prescribing all the time, as much as they need us to just allow them the right space, opportunities, support and trust so that play and learning can happen. Something that my colleagues and I at Room 13 Hareclive and Playing Out in Bristol all believe in, and see brilliant results from, and something that I have tried to get across in my story.
And at a time when the world is feeling a little dark, both literally and in so many things that are happening, I find this also somehow simple and hopeful: what the world needs more of – learning, problem solving, collaboration, kindness, joy – is naturally right there inside children, bubbling up whenever they get the chance. We just need ways for our schools and all of us to support it.
Thank you for reading everyone. And as the world turns and we head towards the light again, I wish you a peaceful and very good 2017