Teacher Tom: It is hard to understand play

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This reference is used to annotate "I would never send my kids to school" (2017) by Piotr Wozniak

To understand optimum learning we need a good grounding in theory, or a good training in educational empathy. Teacher Tom formulates his own Fundamental Law of Educational Empathy:

The great truth is that no one can ever know what another person is learning unless they directly tell us of their own accord: "Guess what I learned? . . ." And this is especially true of young children who likely don't even have the vocabulary or experience to put their insights into words capable of communicating the depth and texture of their moments of Eureka!

Teacher Tom was asked about the benefits of play. Can we know of the value of play at any given moment? His answer explains an essential piece of educational wisdom that is poorly understood by parents and educators:

The only one who could possibly know is the person who is playing, and the moment we interrupt them to ask, the moment we test them, we forever change it. It's a version of what in physics is called the "observer effect." As humans play, they are unconsciously asking and answering questions as they emerge, pursuing trains of thought, playing with variables, theorizing, making connections between one thing and another. The moment another person steps in with his own questions, that pursuit stops, and when the questioner is in a position of authority, like a teacher or parent, those questions become an imperative. The child must end their learning to explain it, to prove it, to translate it, and to invariably narrow it down to a sentence or two that can only, at best, provide a glimpse of a glimpse of what is actually being learned

In terms of neuroscience, Teacher Tom says the following: the learn drive is a force that provides optimum adaptation (see: Optimality of the learn drive). Behaviors that lead to learning are highly rewarding (see: Pleasure of learning). We can then safely bet that a smiling child is in the process of learning. This is why play is called play, not "hard work of learning". For a well-schooled adult, the word play may imply inferior learning. This is why "creative adaptation" might make it sound more "appropriate". To an average parent though we need to simply say "play is good", and only the child knows why. Teacher Tom makes it short:

I do know my fellow humans are learning when they play and that has to be enough

See: Fundamental Law of Learning

Quoted excerpts come from the following reference:

Title: I Don't Know What They Are Learning . . . And Neither Do You

Link: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2021/04/i-dont-know-what-they-are-learning-and.html

Backlink: Educational empathy