Designing for Serious Play
The value of playful learning environments and spaces that support them has been well documented in early childhood and primary school contexts. The literature in the secondary school context is less extensive, and while there is much discussion outside schooling contexts, little quantitative research is available. Curiously, this is the case even though workplaces that support creativity and innovation through the development of informal learning spaces are becoming increasingly commonplace. The possibility of implementing the use of playful learning environments at the secondary school level may be hampered by a lack of quantitative research to support its benefits. This paper addresses this barrier, reporting on a survey undertaken with the students and teachers of two Australian secondary schools, both of which have traditional and contemporary learning spaces. The survey found that perceptions of ‘play’ and the skills or willingness of teachers were the primary impediments to successfully integrating playful learning environments in this context. Among both teachers and students, there was resistance to using these spaces, which were perceived as failing to provide the necessary solitary, concentrated learning environment required for exam-focused learning. Although less significant than the teacher’s role, the nature of the physical space was a contributory factor to perceptions of its success as a playful learning environment. The key facilitating spatial qualities identified were ease in changing spaces, availability of diverse learning spaces, and inclusion of undefined, nontraditional spaces.
KeywordsLearning Environment Traditional Classroom Learning Space Outdoor Space Playful Space
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