By Tushar A Amin
Play has universally been regarded as the most effective way to learn. Unlike academic learning, play engages a child’s mind and body, co-relating theoretical knowledge and practical application in real life. Learning through play is also proven to result in longer retention of concepts learned. Moreover, children not only learn better through play, they also learn ‘how to learn’ through play.
The technological revolution has changed several paradigms on which our society was based. The core objective of education has always been to prepare children for a secure future. However, technological developments have taken away the set predictability. In such a scenario, the only way we can prepare children for a better future is by teaching them to explore, experiment and adapt quickly to a changing society. As we move from a predictable industrial era to a more dynamic, creative and unpredictable technological age, ‘play’ as a learning methodology is gradually gaining centrestage across educational systems.
As opposed to one-way classroom learning, play encourages active participation of children in the learning process. Play also encourages collaboration and sparks a spirit of discovering newer facets of a subject through inquiry and validation. This results in smarter learning, enhanced productivity and wholesome grasp of themes and concepts involved.
In most cases, the preferred route for academic learning is the method of memorisation or ‘rote-learning’. The biggest demerit of this method is that whatever is learnt, can be remembered for only a short span only. The topic recall rate is very low. Learning through play offers an alternative technique to enhance the classroom experience for children across all age brackets. These teaching techniques are well-acclaimed in various parts of the world and such educational techniques are being adopted by leading India educational institutions too.
For younger children, learning through play has become a standard approach across global pre-schooling systems. This teaching methodology ensures an all-round and wholesome development of a child by delivering a combination of benefits such as enhanced gross motor skills through emphasis on physical activity, improved cognitive skills, problem solving skills and memory, and better language and social skills through participatory, collaboration based games.
For older children, hands-on experiences fuel inquisitiveness and discovery. Tinkering with things encourages exploration beyond bookish learning. This approach allows (nay, encourages) children to question status-quo, and find creative solutions to problems. The ability to find solutions to new problems is one of the most critical skills of the future. Learning through play prepares children by helping them adapt to dynamic situations on the fly.
Over the past couple of years, learning through play has acquired a new dimension as technological advances have brought tools like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) within reach of masses. These powerful technologies are democratising education by shattering the barriers of geography and economic strata. More interestingly, these technologies deliver immersive learning experiences that are both educational and fun, just what the digital generation demands and deserves.
Educational systems are gradually evolving to keep pace with the evolving society. As we transition from industrial age to information age, learning through play might just well emerge as the most powerful mode of education for the future.
(The writer is Co-founder, Smartivity.)