Playfully being outdoors: research, pedagogy and practice

Leather, Mark, Prince, Heather and Hayes, Tracy (2017) Playfully being outdoors: research, pedagogy and practice. In: RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2016.

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We aim for this to be an interactive, thought-provoking session whereby participants are encouraged to reflect on their own experiences in outdoor spaces and to engage in the wider debate of how to support others to develop an awareness and appreciation of the world around them. We include presentations from across the disciplines, including geography, sociology, outdoor learning, higher education (pedagogy and research) and other related disciplines. This includes practitioners’ perspectives on how to maintain a playful attitude with older children, young people and adults. We argue for the re-conceptualisation of “playtime” and the development of playfulness as a useful approach to cultivate creativity (Leather, 2014), that goes well beyond childhood, through adolescence and into adulthood. What is playfulness? It is a mood state that facilitates and accompanies ‘playful play’. It may not be observable in behaviour – playful individuals are not necessarily playing, even though they are in a playful mood. We can think playfully as well as act playfully (Hayes, 2015). It is a way of generating new thought patterns in a protected context (Bateson and Martin, 2013). Playful play facilitates creativity – sometimes immediately and sometimes after a considerable delay. It is acknowledged that there is a complex relationship between engendering creativity and the outcomes for learners. We suggest that there are two arguments for adopting a playful approach: firstly, the neo-liberalist discourse about higher education is concerned with career employment. In this sense, creativity is seen as a graduate employability skill by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI, 2012) who consider the skill of creative thinking as a prime outcome of higher education. This CBI report found that a fifth of employers were not satisfied with graduates’ use of creative thinking. Secondly, there are theoretical and empirical accounts about adult playfulness that describe its relation to positive outcomes including: creativity and spontaneity but also quality of life, virtuousness, stress coping and academic achievement. Playfulness has the potential in serving as a lubricant in social situations and for teamwork in work-related settings. There is a clear relationship between exhibiting playfulness and experiencing positive emotions. In our work we actively encourage outdoor educators to engage in “playtime” and have proposed a pedagogy of play to do this (Leather, 2014). However, we need to overcome the Victorian values of our educational heritage and its cultural association of playtime as frivolous so that playfulness can be seen as an intellectual act, opposing the view of playfulness in adults as being childish and without any great sense. ‘The world looks, smells, feels, sounds and tastes different when using this approach’ (Hayes, 2013). We invite delegates to join us in this exploration.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions: ?? UniversityCollegePlymouthMarkJohn ??
Depositing User: Ms Alice Primmer
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 08:57
Last Modified: 22 May 2019 11:52

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