Let’s Play Future!

Let’s Play Future!

by Sanny Zuiderveld, One Globe Kids

If the next generations are going to grow up happy and successful, they must be able to learn, adapt, and make (international) connections. Yet, we still teach them more history than about the future, use print more than digital, reward achieving more than failing, and emphasize local more than global.

Some say the education system, can only be changed from the top down, starting with top universities. But if the success in the future requires creativity, imagination, and experimenting, it seems a no-brainer to preserve the good stuff, starting in Kindergarten or before. How can we play more to learn better?

Six Trends that are Redefining Play and Re-imagining Learning

From the first moment that One Globe Kids joined the Ashoka and LEGO Foundation’s Re-Imagine Learning Challenge, we tried to learn as much as we could from other projects. After studying many of them, six trends stood out:

Kid-preneurs: Kids are taking charge of making the world a better place – and educators are helping them start projects and businesses in the real world. Pacesetters all took on pieces of the challenge: tools, awards, curriculum, and success stories. The earlier they start change-making, the better.

“You are never too young to change a life on the other side of the world.” —Kidknits

Hands-on, Minds-on: Dedicated, open spaces support all kinds of tinkerteams, and collaborative exploring facilitates the process of learning and building. Having a dedicated space for arts and crafts might not seem so new at first sight. But combining low- and high-tech tools with design thinking opens up new ways of learning to solve problems. Add pop-up locations and working on local community needs to the mix, and you have something promising.

“Young makers become masters and develop their own ‘how tos.' ” —Makeosity

Empathy Awareness: There seems to be a buzz about how to increase empathy among young people through education and play. Many entries focused on playing to learn with, about, and from others outside of a daily circle, whether with the help of animals, by facilitating (virtual) joint play for children that wouldn’t easily meet otherwise, or by organizing meet-and-greets that foster intergroup contact. But more work is needed to determine how to measure and monitor impact and results. To be continued for sure!

“Here he can be himself and find folks who celebrate differences.” —Extreme Kids

Virtual Reality: Multiple entries use technology to make the foreign feel familiar, and bring far-away knowledge closer to home. Virtual play will make it easier and more fun to practice skills and “live” real-world scenarios without facing serious consequences. Games also let young people step into other people’s shoes and look at challenges from multiple perspectives, with the option to fail softly.

“Online games have what it takes to get Israelis and Palestinians together.” —Games for Peace

Gamifying Education: Playing games, both offline and online, makes learning more fun and adventurous. It is striking to see how many entries use game play (e.g. board games, sports, and treasure hunts) to make traditional school subjects current and challenging. The real innovative games are able to connect the virtual game with the physical classroom.

“One win leads to another.” —Women Win

Intergenerational Play: It’s important for all members of a community to get involved in the learning process. Playing with young thinkers and sharing experience and wisdom is vital. Some entries focus on the role of older generations and/or on the use of local, traditional events/activities.

“In Africa, when an elder dies, it is a library burning down.” —The Grandmother project

We are proud and excited to be part of such an amazing community of people who let their creative juices flow into such unique learning opportunities. Re-imagining learning is fun and seems to be at a tipping point. Let’s play!