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Edutainment and Professional Experience Reflection – Week 3

February 4, 2013

I found it interesting to read through the three listed articles. I found the second article, Edutainment: No Thanks, I Prefer Playful Learning, to be the most impressive based on my professional interests.

Unfortunately I developed an almost immediate bias against the first article, Play and Its Role in Child Development (Vygotsky, 1966) when I reviewed the bibliographic information. I noticed that this article was published in a Russian journal and was stored in a Marxist archive, during the height of the Cold War. I wondered if students who did not live through the Cold War would react so strongly! Regardless, when reading the article, I determined that the focus of the article was on preschool child development. As my career and focus is on college students, I did not find this article to be particularly relevant to my needs.

The third article, Seriously Considering Play (Rieber, 1996), was more relevant. I was interested to learn how difficult it is to define “play”. I also did not realize the numerous and complex philosophical theories related to the meaning of play. That said, I still found the second article of the three to be the most relevant to my practical interests.

The article, Edutainment: No Thanks, I Prefer Playful Learning (Resnick, n.d) gained my interest in its initial recognition that edutainment often denigrates education unless it is “fun”. The author made a very valid point that the term edutainment implies passive reception of education and entertainment, while the term “playful learning” implies a more engaged process.

The edutainment example in the article could have been improved in my opinion, and based on my professional experience as a science librarian. The author describes a scenario where a student learned scientific principles through an after-school project. The student then wanted to enter this project into the school science fair. Initially the teacher denied admission because the student had not formally formed a hypothesis, but later relented and the student won an award at the fair. The author portrays this as a successful learning experience. However, this experience could have been richer through a third alternative. Rather than denying entry, or allowing the submission “as is”, the teacher could have used this as an excellent opportunity to explain the important concepts of the scientific method including the indispensable component of the hypothesis. The teacher and student could then have reviewed the project, adapted it to conform to the scientific method including the hypothesis, and at that point submitted a more complete project to the fair. The student would still have the rewarding experience of participating in the fair and receiving recognition, while gaining a more complete and accurate understanding of the scientific method.

I also found it encouraging to read about the wonderful museum programs that incorporate playful learning. As a matter of fact, the small natural history museum on the campus where I work coordinates a “curator club” which encourages children to learn environmental science in a hands-on manner. In my professional experience, libraries also provide this type of playful learning, and I wish the author would have recognized this contribution as well. I looked at the website of my local public library, and just this month there are many edutainment/ playful learning opportunities including: American Girl book clubs that introduce literacy and history, reading to dogs to create a stress-free and fun literacy improvement program, and chess club.

Resnick, M. (n.d.). Edutainment? No thanks. I prefer playful learning. Associazione Civita Report on Edutainment. Retrieved from http://web.media.mit.edu/~mres/papers/edutainment.pdf

Rieber, L. (1996). Seriously considering play. Educational Technology Research and Development, 44(2), 43–58.

Vygotsky, L. (1966). Play and its role in the mental development of the child. Voprosy Psikhologii, 6. Retrieved from http://www.marxists.org/archive/vygotsky/works/1933/play.htm

 

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