“Play is the highest form of research” (Albert Einstein)
I find myself increasingly interested and engaged in the changing landscape of education to one that intentionally considers the context of the 21st century. Much of the research — and many current trends influencing educators — relates to the need and desire to enhance problem solving, social capability, and reducing traditional industrial approaches to teaching and learning. Educators are beginning to consider what is important for learners, how to motivate and engage them, reduce the “dropout” rate, and position learners to best meet the education and societal challenges of the future.
We know young children are expert learners. They are hard wired to do this. Recent advances in brain development research showcase the ways in which this takes place. It is particularly vigorous in the first 3-5 years. Studies have shown that the application of divergent or creative thinking patterns sits at 98 percent for those under 5 years. But, evidence clearly shows the decline of this throughout childhood with a massive reduction in creative thinking processes by the time they leave school.
In western society, the broad dialogue in relation to learning for very young child is that ‘children learn through play’. But, how well can we articulate this in action? I suggest that deeper insight into how learning takes place through play is at the heart of progressing the education system, and engaging learners with motivation and enthusiasm.