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Playing the Whole Game

April 4th, 2012

Work in the field of 21st century learning talks of the need for students to not just ‘receive’ knowledge but to produce it. As an ex- primary school teacher I am curious about what providing students with opportunities to produce knowledge actually means in practice. How do we provide opportunities for seven-year-olds, for example, to produce knowledge and what does it look like when they do? I found David Perkins’ book Making Learning Whole helpful in answering questions like these.  You can hear David Perkins talking about some of his ideas here.

In this book David Perkins argues that we need to provide students not just with opportunities to practice skills in isolation, but with opportunities to ‘play the whole game’ of different learning areas.  Using baseball as an example, he describes how teachers might go about doing this in the context of school learning, suggesting that for beginners what we need is a good junior version of the game.  According to Perkins, organizing learning around a ‘whole game’ involves engaging learners in some kind of inquiry or performance and producing something such as a solution, an image, a story, an essay, or a model. This got me thinking ‘How is this different from what I already did as a teacher?’, at least in the areas I felt most proficient, such as art and subject English.

You might like to watch this video of Rose Hipkins discussing our plans for a session on this entry point at the upcoming Shifting Thinking Workshop 2012.

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