What Is Playful Inquiry?

Inquiry is the science, art and spirit of imagination. We naturally associate Inquiry with the logical mind’s intent to satisfy curiosity, solve problems, and explore ideas. Inquiry helps us connect our prior understanding to new experiences, modify and accommodate our previously held beliefs and conceptual models, and construct new knowledge.

Antonyms found in the dictionary: Answer, reply


Playful describes a state of surrender. It involves being open, letting go, and embracing unexpected direction or results. Being playful has positive effects on the body and the brain. Problem solving ability increases after a person has spent some time laughing. This works because laughter turns off the posterior hypothalamus and allows the cerebral cortex to focus on a given task.

Antonyms found in the dictionary: Earnest, serious-minded, sober, humorless, serious, working


An Interview with Andrew Miller

Taking Play Seriously with Truly Amazing People:
An Interview with Andrew Miller

Interview Team: Lori Sortino and Emily Swift
This is one in a series of interviews being conducted on the topic of Serious Play, Serious Gaming -- using games, simulation and virtual worlds to help stimulate learning in innovative new ways and find real world solutions.
Andrew Miller is an educational consultant and online educator for Edutopia. He also currently serves on the National Faculty for the Buck Institute for Education and ASCD, traveling nationally to train fellow educators and present at conferences regarding game-based learning, project-based learning, and culturally responsive teaching.
Q: How can games change how kids learn?
A: We already know games engage us, and we know that our students are playing games whether we like it or not. There is a unique opportunity here to create games that engage students in content. Great Games provide situational learning experiences that give immediate feedback and engage students in critical thinking and problem solving. While many great teachers do this in their classrooms themselves, games can help foster this great educational environment. Instead of skills and drills, good games can depend on comprehension of knowledge by application, analysis and evaluation of content.
Q: Will we need a cultural shift to create education reform?
A: I think we are already in that cultural shift. States, schools, and districts across the world are creating unique and progressive learning models. Some schools are venturing into gamification of education and using learning games as part of the work. If we continue to foster these experiments and implementations, Games for Learning can continue to gain traction as legitimate learning tools to engage students. Games are fostering a cultural shift in education.
Q: Can you give me an example of a school that has dramatically changed how they teach basic skills, using games?
A: Quest To Learn, a brainchild of the Institute of Play is a school that seeks to gamify education through not only educational games, but also through infusing elements of games into the structure of school. They have worked to align instruction and curriculum to game design elements and adopt many game principles. Although in its infancy, the school has seen an increase in engagement in learning core content.

Q: What needs to happen to spur the adoption of more games and simulations in the classroom?
A: Great results and research is needed to have schools and classrooms readily adopt games. In addition, game designers need to design great games with the help of teachers and education experts. There needs to be more conversation and collaboration to have both teachers and game designers understand what is needed for game implementation in the classroom and what games can offer instructionally.
Q: What do you see as the biggest impediments keeping GBL from widespread use as learning tools?
A: Games for educational purposes, historically, have been drill and skill based. Games have not been focused on higher order thinking skills around content. Only recently has educational game development moved past drill and skill to being designed with this focus.
Q: How do you suggest tackling these obstacles?
A: This stigma of “bad games” needs to be removed from the narrative with more examples and research of great educational games. As education is in the midst of reform, the adoption of new learning models is in process. Games being used in the classroom is no exception. If we can continue to the work on using games in the classroom, it will become more widespread. We must be patient, but continue to foster momentum.
Q: If schools, companies, and society as whole adopted serious games and simulation as tools to improve learning, what could happen?
A: Through further adoption, we can continue to get research to improve future games implementation in the classroom, and create better games. I think this will lead to more collaboration between game designers and education experts and teachers. With better results, games will continue to gain grounds in education.

TrulyAmazingPeople.com is an organization devoted to helping individuals, families and communities seeking meaningful work, whole system change, and talent integration ecosystems. TrulyAmazingPeople.com would like to thank the Serious Games Association, The Bohle Company, and the Future Working Together community for their assistance with our research.

Lori Sortino, Lyn Wiltse, and Emily Swift are Truly Amazing People. Lori and Lyn are Creative Solutions Consultants who host Playful Inquiry events. Emily Swift is a technical writer with a BS in Liberal Arts and Engineering Studies.

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