• Fun: is it fun-damental to ‘Education Outside the Classroom’?

    Guest Blog- Sarah Huxley, PhD research student with the Open University.

    ‘Fun’ is a tricky, illusive and bouncy concept. Is it a sensation? Is it something you can create, or something that creates you? What places enable ‘having fun’? Is writing about fun, fun? Welcome to my world.

    I am a PhD research student with the interdisciplinary research centre of RUMPUS at the Open University, and these are the types of thoughts that fill my head. We have recently started a collaboration with Coaches Across Continents (CAC) to explore, experience and understand what ‘fun’ means and does (its roles) in the context of CAC’s educational initiatives. I’ll be researching fun as a partially embedded researcher: this means participating in their staff skype meetings, running around ‘on field’ (probably out of breath) during their educational sessions; in order to experience if and how opportunities for fun arise. The research endeavour will by its very nature be a process of co-creation.

    In particular, I’ll be looking and reflecting upon fun in the context of CAC’s active ‘Self Directed Learning’ approach – an approach embedded in ‘education outside the classroom’ and ‘purposeful play’. ‘Self-Directed learning’ was described to me by one staff member as “honouring that the individual – who is developing – who is learning in this world, is the expert of their experience.” According to interviews and organisational documents, Self-Directed Learning is a question-based methodology that offers an alternative to didactic classroom-based practices of learning. But more than this, it also confronts what ‘knowledge’ and ‘development’ (personal or social) intrinsically can be. CAC continually ask participants/players to think of these concepts in terms of diversity; challenging the assumptions and biases they bring to their communities and vice versa; and that we are all learners in motion, constantly being re shaped by the world around us, as well as if we choose, doing the reshaping.

    Play and fun in CAC’s world are often used interchangeably and integral to its educational enterprise. At this stage in the research process, all I can say is that CAC’s view of ‘Purposeful Play’ is provocative and builds on values of choice. For example, one staff member in seeking to explain what Purposeful Play means, used the analogy of a Scandinavian playground he had heard of, whereby all the objects can be freely moved by players. In doing so, the “freedom of movement in that type of playground [provides] a world that pushes back at your learning, and you are not being confined by this pre-determined idea of this is how the slide is going to be…you get to play around. I don’t have to do any of the things that someone else has already done. From that the idea that play becomes more purpose driven: the play is more expressive of you as an individual, whereas it may be in a more traditional playground that you are not expressing yourself. You are just going up the slide, going across the monkey bars and repeat. Play with that bit of purpose is what points in a more positive direction.” This analogy suggests that CAC’s ‘on-field’ sessions are in a way a playground for all ages. There is a lot more teasing out to be done of the relationship and attributes that are ascribed to play and fun, but for now, there is plenty to slip and slide through.

    For CAC, fun and play are a fundamental aspect of a progressive learning experience. This research will examine this claim. Firstly, by exploring the meanings of fun for different coaches (educators, mentors, youth leaders) in different cultures and contexts, and then secondly by turning to look at purposes (what does fun do/enable?) and why.

    By the way, did I mention I have never played football?

    If you are interested to learn more about the research as it progresses, or indeed have some reflections or provocations of your own, please do reach out: or @AidHoover.

  • The One World Futbol Announces Candidacy for President of the United States

    August 3rd 2016. We are pleased to present this guest blog post written by The Ball.

    My fellow Americans, it is with great excitement and gleeful joy that I accept the Play Party nomination for president of the United States of America.

    Today, we begin the play revolution! The goal of my presidential campaign is simple: to inspire and transform our country—and the world—into a place full of play. The Play Party and I want to lead everyone to Make Life PlayFull!

    Why play?

    When we play, conflicts are forgotten; we are creative and empowered; and we can’t help but smile, laugh and live in the moment. Play, in all its forms, unlocks our passion and our potential. It is the foundation for building the best version of ourselves and our world.

    Play deprivation is real

    Unfortunately, play deprivation is undeniably real. In too many places, opportunities to play are dwindling. In some places, recess, art and music programs have been cut. In others, these programs never existed.

    Children are more “scheduled” now than ever before, and many kids in underserved communities lack the resources, access and time to play. Studies show that this deprivation leads to poor social, emotional and cognitive development of children.

    Play champions

    Enough is enough. It’s time to change this. It’s time to bring back play.

    To do this, I’m calling on you to become a true champion of play and Make Life PlayFull for everyone! All contributions to my presidential campaign will go to three amazing partners who Make Life PlayFull daily: Coaches Across Continents, Futbol por la Paz and Playworks.

    Whether you’re with the Democratic Party, Republican Party, Green Party, Libertarian Party or an Independent, I know all of you can get behind my party, the Play Party.

    The Ball for President - ball toss

    Make Life PlayFull

    As many of you know, balls have been around forever. The simple design is a foundation for all forms of play to build on. Basketball, baseball, soccer, cricket, tennis, tetherball, kickball, foursquare, bowling, golf, bocce and even your own imagined game all have one thing in common: a ball.

    I am from the family known as “One World Futbol.” Our family is revolutionary; we’ve been designed to withstand the harshest environments in the world. I am tough. I am durable. I will never need a pump and will never go flat. I can play anywhere and everywhere.

    Coaches Across Continents and One World Play Project

    The team at Coaches Across Continents is well aware of my durability. Through their multi-year partnership with One World Play Project, they have seen me play on soccer fields, street courts and some of the harshest, rockiest terrain in the world.

    The team at One World Play Project is proud to partner with the extraordinarily dedicated and effective team at Coaches Across Continents. Together, we’re all working to get more balls from my family to programs and organizations around the world. In 2015 alone, the Coaches Across Continents team worked in 30 countries, and with your support of my presidential campaign, we can share the joy of play with more communities.

    Contribute to play, vote for play

    Join me in this campaign to build a future that provides play for all. If we stand together and are prepared to embrace a world where no one is deprived of play, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished. Together, we will Make Life PlayFull!

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