Yesterday OCBC Learning Hub assembled a very diverse group of people from across Singapore and the region to discuss, not banking or finance but Play.  This was the second in an occasional series called Red Yarn that draws connections and learnings from conversations about important topics.  I was privileged to be invited and it was well worthwhile.

The session itself was very playful. We shared toys and other objects we has brought with us, played with PlayDoh (I’d forgotten the smell), crafted our own playful personalised desserts from a dessert toolkit, laughed at embarrassing questions and watched as our thoughts and discussions were visualised by a wonderful session artist.

I took a set of my Digital Action Cards as my playful object which I’m still very proud to have designed and made.  They symbolise an open ended way of stimulating a conversation about transformation in organisations and like many other “toys to think with” they represent how play can be facilitated in adult contexts as well as with children.

We had many different views of what play means to each of us: opportunities to explore, share, invent, create, imagine, experiment, learn, compete, grow, disconnect, discuss and many more. We agreed that it was often social, sometimes facilitated, often outside in nature and essential to a successful life. Sometimes it was purposeful and sometimes not; and both were ok.

Much of our conversation was about how play is seen in Singapore and how, almost certainly, we don’t play enough. Play is often seen as the frivolous opposite of work and it is here that the competitive Singapore education system certainly has a role. There was broad agreement that we need to encourage more play and more playful thinking but its hard to see how parents, teachers, employers and governments can shift our mindset.

My perspective links play with AI and the challenge ahead of us facing a very different landscape of work. If AI and robotics replace many skilled and less skilled jobs then what do most people do to contribute to the society and how do we train the next generation for a world with fewer or very different jobs. One hope is that in a world in which value can be created by fewer people, time and money will be shared and everyone will have more chance to play. Sharing out the money bit will clearly have huge economic impacts and perhaps suddenly the role of a bank and the effects on Singapore become clearer. 

This was a playful session about play and reminds me of why I am so keen on using ideas from play in my own learning design.  I need to give learners choices, freedom, experiments, toys to think with, challenges to unravel and ways to have fun. I will continue to create playful sessions of my own for students, professionals and clients. I will continue to play!

Categories: Learning


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