Sunday, 20 August 2017

The Magic of Play

Yesterday I held a play workshop for the educators from Jenin, Palestine and some of the educators of Filosofiska preschools. it was an opportunity for experiences to be shared and to learn from each other... and to explore play...

The day started with a dialogue... exploring what "PLAY" means to each person... and then what "MAGIC" is...

After this they were given the challenge to explore materials and to discover magic... and not to play as children, but to play as themselves...

Here is some of the dialogue from the morning session... Names are not used... as it this post is only about sharing ideas...

PLAY

Play is with a message and with a goal, but not always... for example in this training we have learned that if we want to teach math we can teach through play and not just writing. This age (preschool) is for playing not just learning...

Playing for children is like freedom for adults, freedom without limits, the child can become more and more by playing... allows the child to develop... Play is the the same for children as freedom is for adults...

The kids invite to play... give them space to try and things, as a parent and as teacher... there is difference between younger and older - there is a difference in their needs... But we should not just let them be, but observe from a distance.

Playing should not be limited, even if it is dangerous, the kids they love to try the things, play comes from within... (talking about risky play)

Playing is a fun activity - happiness... in the end it has a goal for these children, adults situate the things for the kids..

Play is the first job in the kids in the world, it is a kind of power... the kids that do not play will not develop enough..

Fun. to discover the world, I can teach myself through play.

Play is exploring, taking new perspectives, being able to change perspective in an instant, I think both finding and exploring your inner self what you are interested and like and what others are interested and like. Cooperating about a fantasy world.

Play is exploring and but also a state of mind... a joyous state of mind... play requires a possibility mindset... to see possibilities... and what came before

Play is the most fun that exists... but also the most serious and most important thing we have

Play is important for the child, from play we can discover many new things, sensory is important... yesterday we went to the preschool we discovered something new in the room, through play we could discover many new things... we need space for this kind of play.

Playing is life

Play is to explore the different sides of your personality; and play helps to get to know yourself and others on a deeper level. When you understand yourself and others then you can function better. We are all children actually.


MAGIC
Magic is something difficult... it is fantasy she has wishes something like fairies and it is like wishes... I wish to be a king...

When I think magic I think of moments, there are often moments of magic that happens in meeting with objects, humans, or realisation... play is magic... magic is play.

Also think play is magic... if they have the play and magic they also have the power... it is in the play and magic that the children have their world outside of the grown up world... so they can be free...

Its like wishes, its always happening in he night when people are sleeping, then magic becomes real... Everything is possible... (I can do everything)

Magic is a gate opener  (door opener...)

The magic that the children in their mind all the time... they love to use their imagination... the fairy for the girls, she plays with the fairies and has a conversation with them, it is part of the world with the kids...

I can talk a lot about magic but will just say... for example if you look really close at things like the house of a snail or a leaf... your perspective changes... life itself is magic, you just have to have the right eyeglasses on to be able to see... do not take life for granted.

Magic is to give children to to live reality as they want to... adults say no a lot - this give children freedom...

The magic is the surprised face for the kids for example when you ask them to go and see bats in a cave... to then go to the cave... and instead they "find" gold... here they give kids power and life through magic... the most important is that magic gives children happiness..

The kids live in imagination and the magic they use... they need this imagination in everything. It is like wishes... they need it to become a truth. (wishes to become real)

The magic in my world is to let the children think and feel without us as adults – that we take the time to be with the children in their world and be with them and not outside and to be in communication with the children... interaction, to allow them to be who they are, to allow them to experience their own world is magical...

Magic is something that is impossible that becomes possible. (there are a few giggles at this time as I point to my t-shirt with the word IMPOSSIBLE written on it but the first two letters are crossed out)

I agree with what I said before... but that play and magic is important for adults too.. and that it is power for us too... if we are imprisoned in a small room and without freedom then we can be free in our imaginations


The educators then were asked to look  for the magic not the learning in the activities set out for them.  Below are some photos and films from the interactive hands on part of the workshop... and then there is some text from the afternoon session...





making prints... also magic





bubbles landing on the art and not popping straight away

being inspired to build upwards... to crate buildings








dialogue... taking time to explore our thoughts...

During lunch I had a dialogue with one of the Swedish teachers about the fact that I did not want to give my opinion about play or magic during the dialogue... my reason being that I was there to learn from them so that I could be a better teacher for them... that my opinion might sway how they think they should feel and at this point I felt it more important that they learn from each other, explore and then continue the dialogue. I said that this is also how I work with children during dialogues... that my opinion is put on the sidelines so that I can learn from the children to better equip myself to meet their learning needs. For this educator this was a powerful statement ... we went on from there to explore the word interfere... and I think a whole blogpost will come at a later date from this...



AFTERNOON.

Sharing magical moments from this morning...

 It was magical to see smiles spreading on faces through interaction... dialogue and conversation started from being together and doing together.

it was a nice moment when talking to each other... got ideas from what she has made and discovered an idea to build a mosque

Painting on the floor and spraying... it created circles... I was so surprised as I did not know it was going to happen... what i thought was going to happen turned out different and I like to be surprised... that was magical... and that we participated in the same painting together... so we do not know the result... it is always changing... that is magical. Its also like losing control, normally when you are grownup you have to have control of everything and here we did not have to, it and it was liberating.

The light table the plastic usually to pop, but here to paint... at first I only used top of my finger, and then by the end using the whole hand with (2 other educators)... that was a magic moment... the interaction between us as adults and talked about many things, we talked about play for children and how parents are in Sweden and Palestine.

The magic started at this table and started the dialogue and feel like the kids... the challenges this is for me and for you, to imagine the train went to the moon (at the tape and paper table)... bringing the story into the play

the magic for her was the atmosphere, how there was harmony moving from activity to
the magic was you Suzanne when you threw up the flowers...

Inside when painting with my hands and used the colour  and also when Suzanne asked about what I created and I imagined myself as a child and how the child thinks... making a bridge and going to the moon... and this idea of being on the moon, to be honest I have never in my whole life thought I could imagine such things (there was then a dialogue about the importance of imagination and how many children in Palestine are restricted in their play as their imagination tends to be so reality bound)
The magic is to me was was playing with bubbles and mixing the colours together, so we sat and tried...

And how did you mix them?
(she shows with her fingers)

the story room... I forgot to check out the books, and I discovered many ideas for magic there after I had played...

I started with the books so that she could get more ideas

ME: would you start with the same thing? Or books next time?

start with the stories...

ME: is it better to start with your own inspiration or that from a book...?

to start with the story and then she have inspiration from the stories to apply her idea...

in that moment … it depends...

a mix of both of them... start with own ideas... then read stories then you will have many ideas, you can build it on your own ideas and then have new ideas... so both of them working...

that is magic to have a man here. (there was a male educator taking part, and this was of great importance and interest to the educators from Palestine where preschool educators are exclusively female)

I think I was a bit nervous and I sat at the table... and I needed to play by myself and the magic happened when you asked about the question... the question war play. I often think conversations between grown ups are like our version of play... (not just running around etc) we have this interaction between speech and listening.

even if we did this part of playing in Palestine they will only imagine their reality... the guns the occupation... Swedish children can imagine more freely

(talk about Palestine and the need for imagination... to escape the reality...)

when imagining are they butterflies or stylised flowers all looking the same or tanks... but they all look the same (templates) it is very much Disney style and sponge bob in Palestine... that is why I am afraid of this kind of materials... it is stylised fantasy... they are locked images... 

and not relevant to Palestine...

how can I use paintings and other images of a flower to open up the space for creativity and imagination. Instead of looking at standard red/yellow flower... go explore flowers in nature... to experience... flowers though new perspectives... (not many flowers in the camp... mostly rubbish)


the scent in the paint... nice addative... did not think of it myself...
also the scent is connected with emotions and can bring that to the learning/experience

ME: science says that scent is the biggest memory trigger... smells with positive memories can enhance learning while smells with negative memories make it harder to concentrate...


in our system at work in Jenin, in our reality there is no man working in kindergarten...

ME: what good do you think will happen from having men in preschool in Jenin?

There was then a long dialogue about men working in preschools, about gender differences and about making changes in Palestinian education and society... these topics I will take in another post as they are worth exploring on a deeper level.

But from the comments I have shared (this is of course not the entire dialogue) you can see that imagination and magic are important elements of play, and important for learning and important for change.
As I reflected over the day I realised that imagination needs space... place and time... it also needs safety... as it became clear that if adult educators could not imagine they would talk about flying trains and going to the moon then the reality of occupation and fear has been so overwhelming that there has not been space for imagination. 
So how do we create this space for the children in Jenin right now... these educators are an important part of this... as are all educators and people who work and come in contact with children... to create space where children feel safe enough to imagine...
and by exploring imagination there is the hope that creative thinkers emerge...
and creative thinkers can become problem solvers, and maybe even conflict resolvers.
Imagination and play are essential for peace.

This brings me back to PLAY FOR PEACE.


4 comments:

  1. Love your work Suzanne. Play--for all ages--is so important. No learning without imagination. Your workshop sounds amazing!

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    1. It really IS so important... and sadly so undervalued in society as a whole.
      hoping that I can share my workshop with more people during the coming year...

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  2. What a beautiful and inspiring post! I love how you have explained the reason behind listening to their opinions and feelings, it does make a lot of sense! I only wish I could have been there to enjoy, learn and share experiences. Well done Suzanne x

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    1. Thank you.
      it was an inspiring day... and I am looking forward to this weekend when we will be playing outside together for two days... I can't wait for their reflections then...

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