Learning Through Play

Learning through play – is this just for kids?

We all love to spend time doing what kids do, right?  Some long to revisit their younger selves, to let go of adult inhibitions and be able to think freely again. To remember what it was like to have no responsibility and just have fun.  Students in our leadership and management course had the opportunity to do just that last month when we rolled out the playdough, crayons, pipe cleaners, and Lego bricks in class.  The challenge?  To represent, visually, ideas to solve a workplace problem.  No writing allowed. Nope, the solutions needed to be built from one or more of the resources on the project table.

This type of learning is not radical, by any means.  For centuries, we have taught our children through play.  Build a tower, Johnny, let’s see how high you can make it.  Let’s count how many times you can jump the skipping rope without stopping. What colour will we have if we mix those playdough colours together?  Where did that rainbow inside those bubbles you just blew come from?  Learning through play doesn’t have to end when we stop being a child.  We still have creativity aplenty, even if it’s buried deep inside us, blocked by the busyness of our everyday lives.

Going back to our students in the leadership and management course with the big blob of playdough on the table.  After just over twenty minutes, their playdough creations became a representation of their need to incorporate more digital technology into their workplace.  Gradually, as the shackles of adulthood fell away, a miniature table emerged, then a chair, a computer, keyboard and mouse. And a worker, complete with glasses, all built from playdough and pipe cleaners.  There were aha moments, there were smiles, there was laughter, and there was learning.  By exploring the connections between play and innovation, students discovered how visual brainstorming can unlock creativity and how they can then use that in their team to foster innovation.

Next, we turned our attention to manufacturing paper aeroplanes – testing prototypes to manage quality, and as forty planes took their maiden flight in the testing room, students were innovating new and different processes to improve designs and outcomes.  A 2% success rate quickly became 10%, then 25%.  By the end of the session, there were six different models in the test arena and teams were confident they could keep developing their processes and systems further still.  Leaders guided team members, delegating tasks based on understanding their attributes and the group learned the importance of valuing diversity during the innovation process.

We researched innovative companies using our smartphones.  We ditched the whiteboard, the ubiquitous PowerPoint presentation and the textbooks.  We played, we created, we had fun. And isn’t that the best way to learn?  We think so.

Click here to discover more about the training courses offered at the Business Growth Centre or call 4942 3133 to find out how play and other learning methods can help you grow and achieve your goals.

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