Get On With Your Work

Most people will be familiar with Pat kane as one half of the succesful pop duo Hue and Cry, but he is also a successful writer, journalist, broadcaster and thinker. In his acclaimed book “The Play Ethic” he explores the notion that human being are players by nature, that we learn and create through play, and that the work ethic, appropriate in the industrial age and much loved by Gordon Brown, is increasingly irrelevant in the third millenium. The notion of learning through play is explicit in the new Curriculum for Excellence in the early years, but why stop there would be Kane’s argument. In relation to education in particular he says;

“We need a new way to look at the complexity of the educational experience – one that regards the apparent “messiness” and “imprecision” of play as a deep resource for understanding, rather than something which has to be squeezed out of curricula tailored to deliver better performance statistics for short-termist politicians. I suggest that scholars might unite around a new notion of literacy – a “multi-literacy” that ties together the deep humanism of the teaching profesion with the ludic realities that face their pupils in the new century.”

Reading Kane’s analysis reminded me of a comment made by Guy Claxton at the Scottish Learning Festival a couple of years ago, when he highlighted the deep-rooted cultural acceptance in this country of school or learning as “work” (how often in schools do you hear expressions like, “Hand in your work”, “Get on with your work”, “Have you finished your work?” etc. Claxton’s challenge to teachers was that every time they found themselves about to use the word “work” they used the word “learning” instead, and to discover what a shift in mindset would follow.

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