risk and safety in play

I’m thinking today, after talking with an instructor, about how important these concepts of risk and safety are when talking about play. School is a place where most students (I *almost* said “all students”) feel anxiety, if not fear. In this state they are not ready to learn — our brains are unable to incorporate new learning when receiving danger signals. Not ready to learn and certainly not ready to take the risks that learning involves. So much of teaching theory seems to be focused on tricks to “get students” to learn something, something that the instructor has deemed important and that students only understand they *need* to learn in order to pass the course. The ridiculousness of this enterprise keeps hitting me over the head! Instructors need to simply unlock that essential part of us that is human, that is open, that has a powerful drive to learn and learn and learn. Play is a key to opening students up. And we will not touch that essential part without providing an environment where students feel safe to explore and play. We will not touch it with the threat of a low grade.

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