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keith at ela

Location: England UK and Philippines

Positions: Parent, Classroom Teacher Boy who could not read

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy

I don’t know if you have heard of this saying but it’s a regular one in English, which means, if all you do is work work work then you and your life will be dull and boring.

So it is with boys and reading.

Fun and games in the learning process are important. A boy who can’t comprehend the complexities of a reading exercise can probably name most if not all, of the street on a Monopoly board, probably in the right sequence and with the right colour as well, without once ever having sat down with the specific purpose of memorising them.

What I am saying is obvious, of course, because I think we all know instinctively that play is a route to learning that remains open when just about everything else has become blocked; the more effective, very often, for operating at an unconscious or subconscious level. The most cursory glance at the natural world reveals the young of every intelligent species learning through play: We, however, supposedly the more intelligent, remove play from the timetable as soon as our young enter the institution dedicated to learning, and relegate it to its own little space, called playtime or break-time, when the learning process is deemed to be on “pause”!

Of course children start out in the infants with a day fairly well filled with play activities, but all too soon these dwindle away as they are replaced with the so called “real thing”, and once they reach Junior High school or Secondary School the only (teacher-instituted) games that really take place in the classroom are the occasional end-of-lesson “sweetener” or an end of term treat. Of course the demands of the National Curriculum have to be met, but I wonder sometimes, as we watch the light of infancy dim in the eyes of our growing children, to what extent Jack is a dull boy because we have made him that way.

We all need to re-evaluate the role and importance of play and games within the structure of what must be achieved in a lesson.

I don’t claim to be an expert: my authority is that of the practitioner who has found some ideas that work when all else seems to have failed. I have a collections of ideas that can be used, some will be familiar; some, I trust, will be new. I will try to upload them for you all. I hope after trying them, you will feel more prepared to make games out of chemical formulas or to play History Whist, I believe you will be doing something to restore some of the light to Jack’s or Jackie’s eyes and I will have achieved my objective.





Location: Hawaii, USA

Position: Parent

Personally- I think hands-on learning is so important! I was a struggling student in the remedial classes until 5th grade when my family moved from Maryland to Seattle Washington.

I then had a wonderful teacher, we called Mr. Mano, and learning was very HANDS-ON. It seems like all we did was play games, paint murals and apply what we were studying.

I went from a struggling student who couldn’t pass a spelling test.. .to a straight A student getting 100% on words like anthropology, archeology (we were studying Egypt that year).

For years I thought I was an idiot… and it just turned out I had a different learning style. This teacher- really changed the course of my life. When my family was going to move back to Maryland a year later- he spent the summer working with me, teaching me how to “translate” information presented by teachers and books into ways that had meaning to me.

(by drawing pictures, graphs, outlining articles, he taught me how to take notes on lectures, etc..)

I think this ic is sooooooo important! And teachers should use games more- especially for those struggling students who “just don’t seem to get it” the traditional way!

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