Professionals, stand up for your playing rights!

Mari Luz García,
Executive Program Manager y Chair of Entrepreneurship ESCP Europe (Madrid)
27/07/2017

Play, broadly accepted as essential in education for children as it develops the brain and it builds the intellectual, social, physical and emotional skills needed to thrive in life. Enough good reasons why the United Nations has recognized play as a specific right for all children. However, what about adults? If it is so beneficial, why do we not continue with these rights beyond childhood?
 
As like for children, the great possibilities continue even if you are a grown up;
 
  1. Boost skills in Innovation, creativity, intelligence and problem solving; playfulness creates a unique safe learning environment that encourages to imagine, create, make mistakes and grow.
  2. Increase engagement, common language and ownership. Through playfulness, you achieve that learning and education becomes something to be excited about.
 
At the Chair of Entrepreneurship our best practices are not only related to the way we motivate our students to learn beyond the academic arena doing activities to help them step outside their comfort zone and celebrate mistakes,  such as visits to museums, getting involve in social event co-working spaces etc.
 
We believe that education and playfulness is the perfect match and like to include it as much as we can in our teachings. From the power of visual thinking to help them memorize better or the famous and fun Marshmallow challenge to explain the benefits of iteration in prototyping.  And of course many teambuilding activities to increase communication by solving a Maze in silence or getting to know yourself, or even designing your business strategy with Lego bricks applying the Lego Serious Play method, which cites that  it is a fact that as humans we understand our world much better in 3D.
 
Instead of focusing on exams, we recommend impact based learning-by-doing while working on real missions to develop their entrepreneurial mindset and the more than ever needed soft skills in a fun and playful way.
 
Despite the demonstrated benefits, we still have a long road in front of us as the perception/believe that work/education should not be fun is still alive. Unfortunately, this idea is still maintain in education by both (business) schools and universities who are still stuck in the traditional industrial era model and find it hard -or even aren´t awakened- to adapt their system towards the 21st century temporary needs.
 
That is why we still need non-profit movements like Play14, that organize gatherings that unite international people who share the same believe that playing is best way to learn and understand. During these unconferences you share, learn, experiment and take away practical experiences on "serious games." By having experienced real practices during these weekends, you see what works or what can be improve making it so much easier to adapt those proposed games towards your own setting and demands.
 
Moreover, as with all in life, with serious gaming, you need to fail to learn. Therefore, when you continue to practice, every now and then you get a thrill when you reach the "flow" state and suddenly you pass to the next level. There you will find the sigh of happiness, and you just realize you have grown. This counts a lot, even for big players :-)
 
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