Jesse Robert Coffino: "True Play, the Complex Mind of the Child and the [...]" | Talks at Google

Jesse Robert Coffino:

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Jessie, who is our guest has. Been working with, on G plane in China which is a I think is a really awesome kind, of new, way of teaching kids at an early childhood just to be better people which i think is a good. Thing I'm not gonna steal his thunder so let him go ahead and tell, you what, it's all about. Hi. Everyone and and thanks Matt for that lovely introduction, and it's really quite an honor to, be at Google talking. To people, that are part. Of a sort, of revolutionary. Endeavor. To change how we think and interact and what we do and so it's really I think fitting. Place to talk about what's. Happening, in on G China what's, starting to grow across China and what's now coming to the United States in, the form of an G play and so, Matt gave you a brief, introduction. To, me but, I kind of want to give you some context, about why, I'm the person here talking to you what my background is how, I'm involved in this project, about. Three, and a half years ago I get, a phone call and it's, from a close friend a woman by the name of dr., Chelsea Bailey. Former. Professor, of early education at, NYU somebody. With decades, of experience in the field and she says to me Jessie, I'm. An Angie County China there's. A revolution, taking place I think she was the word epistemological. Shift, she, said the. World is going to change because of the work that's taking place right here, right now you. Speak Chinese you're, reading write Chinese you're about to be a father, you should stop whatever you're doing and you should become a part of what's, happening right here and I. Am a hundred percent certain, that in that moment my thought was you're. Out of your mind. Like. This is why I told you not to drink the tap water you, need to sleep, more, but. I said I don't. Know I'm a little bit busy she, said well, there's. A woman named is Chung Chien she. Is the, force, the. Mind the. Drive, behind, what's taking place and I'm bringing her to the United States and she's, gonna give some talks and I've, got a PowerPoint, and I need you to translate. That PowerPoint for me it. Seemed like you, know something I could stomach. You know there's a and I was, interested, I have a skeptic naturally, but I was like okay let's take a look so. She sends me through a 200. Page PowerPoint. And. I'm. Opening. Up and immediately. Within. Seconds, I see. A, clarity. Profundity. A depth. Of purpose, and I, see what Chelsea's talking about and, I. Spend. The entire night translating. The PowerPoint and I. Stopped, everything else that I was doing and that's, kind of why I'm here now and so in, that period I've spent time in, Anjou China a lot of time with Miss Chung who is who has developed this approach I have worked as her interpreter, I've brought educators, from the United States and Australia and Bangladesh and sub-saharan, Africa I brought them to on G to experience, this and so, today. I'm going to share my view as a parent, because one, of the, really. Lasting. Changes. That on G play has made in my life personally and this is why I'm sticking, to this contextual, personal. Introduction, is it's changed, how I see my child and what, I expect, of people. That are going to be taking. Care of her and how.

They See her, and how, I see, her and how my wife Cesar is informed. By this engagement. With these ideas, so, my. Powerpoint, is gonna be about it tenth as long as the one that I interpreted. And translated if. It has a hundredth, of the clarity, and depth then, I feel, like this. Will be worth it for you guys to be here so, I'm. Gonna start on that note and I'm, gonna start with this. This. Is this is your brain or this is my brain I want, you guys to take. A minute, to. Take out your pixel, two or open, a Google. Doc and, I want you to write, down or, recall, your, deepest, memory. Of play as a child your. Deepest memory plays John when he take you a minute, the first thing that comes to your mind think, about where. You were what you saw what you smelled who you were with what was going on and. Really think about it. And. Why this is important, will become clear, in. A few minutes. All, right I hope. Everybody has a memory of play as a child. So. On G China. This. Place that is the cradle. Of a. Shift. In how, we think, about children how, we think about the. Role of the teacher the, role of the, adult, the, role of society really, in. Supporting. The, growth the development, the learning of the child it's I think, of it as kind of like the Mendocino County, of Shanghai, it's. About a three hour drive it's. Beautifully. Forested. In bamboo, it. Produces. White. Tea it's it's it's. Where, if. You've seen if you remember a Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon it's where those wire fighting, scenes were shot. It's mountainous, and it's, diverse. You, can see if. You just go straight. Sort of Southwest from Shanghai it's a three-hour drive it's. Rural, enough, and. It's originally. Disconnected. Enough that it kind of has its own distinct, culture, its own distinct. Way, of being way of living it's a really, gorgeous, pleasant. Place, to be and I hope that, all of you will join us there because, we do have opportunities to come visit and to see what's happening there. In. 1999. Miss. Chung is. Appointed. To the position of, Director of pre-primary. Education for. Anzhi County, in. China the way the system works is you have kindergarten, which, is for ages, three to six it's. Not compulsory, it's, optional it's. Not. A mandated, curriculum there, are very broad guidelines. And it's. Provided. On a need, basis, so. Tuition. Is calculated, based on the financial. Wherewithal of, the family. So. When, Miss Chung comes in to her position, she comes from a background of, being an, early educator, of being a. Preschool. Teacher and when she was in college, in the 80s when she was learning her. Profession, a lot, of the focus was on, traditional. Abilities. Playing, the piano drawing. Singing. Sort. Of approaches. To entertaining, children and. So she was put in this position she was seen as somebody who had great. Potential, for administration. She moved over from the side of teaching. To the side of administration, and her, first and most. Pressing, concern. Was, access. She. Had a large, rural, County with a county. Seat that was fairly urban and she. Knew that her, responsibility. Was, to provide a, clean. Safe. Accessible. Space for, every child in her County and, I'm not gonna go into the really long and detailed policy. Story of how, she made this happen and it's brilliant and I'm, happy to share that with you if you're interested but, she went from a situation where, they, had four sites that, were in the process of being privatized, at the beginning of the 2000s, when you had a shift in, sort of economic realities, in the relationship, between the, free market and the government she. Made. Sure that those schools, stayed. Part of her, administration and then, she grew it exponentially. And so, from 1999, to 2009 she goes from four sites to. 130, sites she, goes from the, county seat to, a point where, 98.5. Percent of, children between the ages of 3 & 6 attend. A public kindergarten. In anji County so, she started, by building the, infrastructure. So. What is on G play we know we're, on G is now we know sort. Of how early education. Happens to degree in China. First. And foremost it began, as a response to national, policy so. In 1989. The. UN passed, the, convention. Of the Rights of the Child, in 1992. China, ratifies, that and, 1996.

China Integrates. A very, core, concept. Within, the Convention which is that children, have the right to play they. Put it in their guidelines and then in 2001, it becomes, even more firmly. Established. At the level of national policy to say, that the, primary, activity, of the. Child in. The garden should be plain but. As I mentioned a moment ago, there, is no mandated, curriculum for, kindergartens, in China there are guidelines very broad guidelines, and so, Miss Chung in her position and her position and responsibilities, was confronted, with this question of make. Kids play and so she, had to ask herself she had to respond to this question of what play, is what is play, and. We asked that question I'm gonna go to come, back to sort of your memories and so as is his taking shape she's asking. Herself a players she's. Responding, to the concerns of parents who. Very. Reasonably, want to know that their children are being taken care of and that they're learning. She's. Responding, to a crisis. That she's seeing develop. Amongst. Her, teachers, that. Crisis, is something that in differing. Degrees exists. In the United States it exists in your communities, which, is that. Increasingly. The demands, of primary, school are being pushed down to, the early educator, and what happens then is the, early educator, is seen as a caretaker as a nanny as somebody who is failing at teaching. Children, what, they need to know and so, you have the status of the teacher within the community, as one, of passive. Obey. Ur of the demands. Of the parent and the demands, of the, primary. School and. You, have a question, the teacher is saying well what am I supposed to do what is my role I have. All these conflicting interests, I know that I am a professional. I know that I am somebody, that should be respected so one. Of the questions it's being considered. And is being addressed as this takes shape is what is the role of the teacher who are they what are they supposed to be doing there's. Also a response, to political imperatives.

That's Taking place as this. Takes shape so, I share, this picture this, is the party, secretary for, a small village and on G his name is mister Jewell and. When we've talked to him and we visit him every every, couple months what. He describes, is, he was, taking. Part and misses miss Chung's. Drive. To build schools we're at the local level local leaders, were asking, the people in the villages to provide, land to provide space, to provide the reefs to. Create these sites for children what he said is he said I was able to convince the, villagers, that they should give the best part of land in the center of our village over to children because, I knew that if their kids, were, safe but, if they were happy, than if they were learning they could go to work and they could rest assured that when they're at work they don't have to worry about what's going on and my, responsibility. Is to the people in my community and, so we can do that here figure, that throughout the county, then we're serving, a very, important, political role, so he saw his, decision, to support early education as a political, decision it's. Something that was about sustainability, about. Creating. Conditions for. Prosperity. For. Harmony. Things. That are considered. Top. National, priorities, and I would assume that those are top national priorities in many countries. There's. Also a response, to the status quo and this. Is a very, important. Frame, for, looking at what's taking place in on G and that is that, oftentimes. When we design systems, we, first look at what we're measuring we. Say here, are the outcomes and so. The question becomes who decided, what those outcomes were and why are those outcomes dictating. Our practices, why. Do you start with product and then move backwards to process, and so. What. Was very fortunate about the situation, that this moment, in Chinese political and social history. Provided. Was there weren't any measures they were saying kids should play they, weren't saying you, have to have this rating, scale or this preparation. For kindergarten, and so, they had the space to discard. Those status, quo definitions. Of outcomes. So. This is what onji County kindergartens, looked like before, 2001. Miss. Chung calls this the period of no, play you. Can see why she calls it that and I can I can I can tell you and I've been to a lot of schools in the United States that. You know change out the clothes change, out what's going on the walls get, some pedal desks, you're. Gonna find situations, in the United States where, children, are being managed, where they're being contained. Where they're expected to sit where, they're expected to repeat, where, they're expected to learn very, specific. Irrelevant. In my mind to, their experience, into their depth. And complexity, of knowledge. So, this was happening, pre, 2001. From. 2001. To 2002. Miss, Cheung takes this. Imperative. From, the Ministry. Of Education that. Children should play and so what do they do they. Build beautiful. Environments. Beautiful. Lifelike. Representations. Of food of, various. Roles various. Spaces kitchens. And, the, teachers design rules for play they, organize, the children to play and. At the same time, they're. Winning awards at, the provincial level people, are saying wow, look, at that beautiful, environment, how did you get your teachers, to spend all of their time creating. This beautiful, space for children and. Mr., Cheung walks into these schools and, I share this picture not. Because you can see the environments, that were created, what. Miss Cheung said is that, children are not smiling, with their eyes. This. Play does not belong, to these children and again.

You. Change a little bit about the environment you remove that Chinese character in the background, you can go to a lot of programs, the United States, programs. That are play based programs. That are child-centric. Programs. That emphasize the. Value of playful, learning and those. Are the expressions, you see so. False play was a reality for Miss Cheung in, Angie and it's a reality for us here. As parents, and if. We go back to the political imperatives, us as citizens because. We have to think about what this is doing to children and. What that means in terms of our relationship, to children. So. What is true play and, so. This is the question that Miss Chung asked. Herself she. Said what is true. Play and where she started, with. Her, deepest. Memories of play as a child she. Said what do I remember what, is it in my childhood, that is still with me that I can't forget that way I think about it I smile. That when I think about I can smell those smells I can see those sights I know exactly how I was feeling and, that's why I started with that question because that's where she began she. Began with the sense of a deep, sense of responsibility to. Children, to, her teachers to, her community, and that. Began was a question in a question that she started to ask her, teachers and her principles because what she saw she saw teachers, and principals, who are spending days. And nights, creating. Environments that, children didn't enjoy and so there was a tension. There was a opposition. I'm, a teacher I'm trying to do things to make you happy to play you're, not happy sine, wrong with you there's something wrong with me everybody. Thinks that they're not learning it became. A very vicious. Cycle, of. Opposition. And that's, not what, education, is about that's not what learning is about that's certainly, not what play is about. And. So she reached. Some conclusions and, I. Want at the end of, our sort of talk here today I want to ask you some questions about your memories, but. She saw. Some, common, characteristics.

In The memories, that she and, her principals, and the parents, had about, their own play, most. Importantly. The. Play that was remembered, was. Play that, arose, from. The interest. And the intention, of the child it. Was play that was self determined, it, was played where the child decided, with whom where, and what to play it, was play that often times to place out of thor's it, was often risky, play it often involved. Extensive. Periods, of time, it. Was play. That. Part. It, was play where, the outcomes, in terms of the. Individuals, experience were, clear. They. Had. Friendship, they had bravery. They, discovered. And. So, what they decided to do and. What. They began to do was, they decided they needed to step back. Miss. Cheung says that her first instruction, to teachers is hands. Down, mouth. Closed, ears. And eyes open. Now. That's not the endpoint of the teacher but that's the starting, point because, if you cannot see, true, play if, you cannot allow for true play then, you have no way of knowing to do we. Have no idea of how how, you should act next what you should do next how you should respond to that and if we're saying that this experience. Of true play is the, most fundamental the, most natural. The most complex, form, of learning that, a child can engage in then. That is the priority and so the priority is to create the conditions for that to happen once. You create the conditions for that to happen then. You, can make decisions about, how to support that about. How to, allow. Children to reflect, and to. Share. And to express, and to build on that play in order, to create, knowledge to. Create true. Deep. Learning. And in. That process of, stepping back and observing if you tell the teacher or if the teacher becomes, aware that their role. Is not. To, possess. The authority of, knowledge, to. Transmit, the authority that knowledge to the child but, that their stance is a humble stance of seeking to understand, the child, they. Gain a deep, sense of expertise, because. What they're learning from as children, they, our expertise, is children, and what their expertise, and children is is not what some, dead, scholar, said, a hundred years ago or 50 years ago or 20 years ago or some live scholar said five years ago, the. Knowledge that they have of children the, children that they're seeing that are engaged in the deepest, most complex, form of learning is coming, from their eyes and their ears and they're, providing they're creating the conditions for that to happen and so, they become experts and children and they can communicate, that expertise, they.

Can Communicate that expertise to children they can communicate that expertise to parents, they can communicate that expertise, to primary school teachers and policymakers, and so, what you see when teachers, step back when. They're given that space that permission, when. They're empowered, to, allow children to lead their own learning you, see a. Status. Change within. Community. And that, happened in onji teachers. Were no longer nannies, and caretakers, they weren't passive. Receivers. Of the knowledge that they were supposed to pass on from the primary, schools and. So. The more complexity. They observed the, more they understood, the child the, more that they were able to communicate that, the more value, that was perceived around their work. And. So. What, we talked about and we talked about this and we'll get into this in more detail, because. Risk is an important, aspect of this is that, all true. Learning and what they what they decided. When they step back and on G was that all true learning takes, place on, the boundaries, of our capacity. And. If you don't let us if you don't step to the boundary of your capacity you're not learning anything and some. Of you are engineers, you. Have to problem-solve, you have to think about how. To do something differently, you have to push yourself, you're. Not sitting there with. Instructions. About what you're supposed to do you're at, your best operating. On the boundaries of your ability and. So, I kind, of want to bring us into a quote here from Miss Chung and it's a little heady, but, you guys are smart and I, could, choose a quote that's very touchy-feely and, there are a lot of those about how amazing the child is and how our job is to discover, the child but I want to go right into the heart of what, this means so what she talks about is returning, the right of play to children, and that means the child's, play is self determined, it comes from their intention, and she's, not talking about liberating, children she's talking about liberating, teachers and that's. Important and as parents we can think of it as liberating adults, because. We are not bound by a need to control or to direct and, we're, put in a position of truly. Appreciating. A deeply. Loving, children, because, we see there capability, and we get that feedback of children, seeing, our trust of feeling, our trust of understanding. The respect, that we feel for their ability and knowledge and so that's a liberating, feeling it's. Liberating not to be stuck in a back-and-forth around. Getting, somebody to do what they want to do and that's not to say that as a parent as a teacher there aren't instances, where you have to problem-solve. Around getting, somebody to do something but when you'd say that the primary. Role. Of the teacher the primary. Activity. Of the school is, a, respect. And the creation of conditions, for, deep experiences. Of true play you, get this sense of liberation of. Empowerment, and then. We get into liberating. Teachers from formalisms. And utilitarianism. So. Utilitarianism. Is just the idea of of outcomes. Defining. The approach of basing. What you're doing based, on a perception, of what, it will lead to and so, that's that's. That's that's assessing, how many letters you have it for that's. How. Long you can sit still without moving, and do your table work that's. Defining. Learning narrowly, based. On measures, that don't. Account. For the, incredible, depth and the complexity, of the thinking of the child. So. True, play as. It, emerged in angie was. Defined, and continues, to be defined by five.

Core. Values, and call, them conditions, and the first is, love and. Love. Is many. Things but in its. Most, pure. Form its. Stability and, safety. And respect, and Trust. It's. That place that, you can stand on and that you can go and take that risk you can go and do that thing that you, don't know the outcome of or that you think you might know the outcome off you've. Known this if you if you're playing and you run away from home to go play you, know your home is there there's, that safe place that you can return to and that's, something that the teachers, can provide and that teachers get back from children it's. A deeply. Ecological. Distribution. Of a condition. So when, teachers. Provide. That love of a deeply. Engaged, presence, of putting, the child's, own experience, and intention, on. Par. With the most, important, or treating, it as the most important. Activity. Of the school children, give, that back because. When. I as a parent experienced. The. Capability. Of my daughter in negotiating. Risk in, making. Discoveries I feel, a deep sense of love I've. Given her love she's, taken my trust in my respect and she's shown me what she's capable of, and. What happens then is you can communicate, that to parents you can communicate, that to administrators, you can communicate, that to principals, it's, not a one-way thing and it's not a simple thing but what it really allows for that. Deep sense. Of safety and security that deep sense of belonging is, it, allows for risk and. As. We said risk, is what learning is about. Any. Real, learning is, testing. The. Edges of your ability it's standing, on that boundary and saying I'm gonna put my foot over and we each experience risk, in a different way in. Onji there's an incredible, amount of really. Impressive. Physical risk that takes place but. There's also social, risk emotional, risk there's intellectual, risk risk. Is not narrowly defined, as, something that might make you anxious. Because, it looks dangerous, risk. Is really about taking, that leap, figuratively. Or, literally. And. What you see here in this image is, you. See children who have created, their own conditions. For, risk and there's. A lot of research on this subject that, shows that, when children are allowed to. Decide. How, and when to take risks, when they're given materials. That they can master. And build that they will take risks, that are developmentally, appropriate and, they will for, that reason be, safer, if. You, have a fixed, climbing structure, a child. Can't decide it's height they don't have a knowledge of its structure they, get bored of being low they go high and they fall off and they can hurt themselves but, if you have children who are building. Who are testing, who are experimenting. Who, are using a minimally, structured. Large, moveable, material to build progressively. Over time and they're given the space and time to do that and they're not being told do, this do that take, this risk take that risk because what's, important about risk and what's important about true play is that can't come from a teacher that can't come from an adult if you tell a child to jump off of something that is danger, if a, child builds something and jumps off, that's.

Risk And so. There is a responsibility, to provide materials that aren't going to break that, aren't poisonous that. Spaces. Don't have pointy. Objects, sticking out of them there's a baseline, of safety that has to be provided but, beyond that by, creating materials. And these materials the materials of onji and there are hundreds of materials, that miss chung has developed, over time based. On our observation, of children following specific, principles, create. They. Really create the potential for maximum. Complexity. With. Minimal, structure and, so. What's the outcome of, risk, what's. The outcome of risk when you make. A breakthrough in your work when. You do something and you feel. That thrill, of jumping off that ladder when. You get up on the stage and and, you you you give your speech and you're actually doing ok at it you, feel joy you, feel a deep sense of joy and that's a reward mechanism. And to. Me and I think that there's a lot of science, that will back me up on this that. If you're in the position where, you have a sense of safety the stability, of love when, you're taking risks and you feel joy you're. Learning. You're. Learning about yourself you're, learning about the world you're. Learning about, all. Of the things that we try to teach in. Very dogmatic, ways. When. You go back to this picture there's. Physics going on there there's. A lot of science taking place there it, wasn't set up for science we didn't, demand that they do this for science it wasn't designed for science but, children are embodying, with. Their bodies with the materials the materials in a way are an extension, they're an externalization, of what's happening internally, they're. A part of their being, in their body and so they are feeling. They are experiencing. They are building, these concepts. Let's. Say that joy that, joy makes. You want to take another risk it. Makes you realize that that risk was worth taking, when. You get love, leading. To. Risk. Resulting. In joy what, you see is a deep. Deep. Engagement. You. See children who. Spend. Hours. Focused. On solving. Problems on. Negotiating. Challenges. Socially. Or intellectually. You see. An engagement that, is the foundation. For learning the, foundation, for learning that takes place when they're eight or when they're nine and when they're being taught abstract, principles.

Not, Only are they embodying, these, principles, that they're gonna learn later but, they see the. Experience. Of engagement, in, understanding. The world as something. That has deep, value, and relevance. The. Last. Principle. The last condition. Is. Where we get to the role of the adult in all this a little. Bit. Reflection. So. When. We went to that memory and we saw those memories of play where there weren't adults, present the. Difference that we have is that we have schools and, schools. Are systems and teachers, have responsibilities. And so, how do. You treat the, experience. Of deep, engagement, in joyful. Learning, as a. Fundamental. Subject. Matter for the children well what. You do is you provide. Opportunities. For children to reflect on their own experiences. And. Something funny happened when when they first started doing this in Angie the. Teachers were so. Impressed. By what they were seeing the children do they, were so excited that they were pulling out their phones and. Taking pictures of video because they wanted to show the other teachers look what my kid did can your kids do this and they. Realized that they wanted to know what the children were doing and so. They began to provide opportunities. For children. To describe. And to discuss, their, specific. Experiences. So as the, teacher. Gains. Knowledge, and becomes more, of an expert, in the, children that are in their care and in children in general and children, in a a. Context. Of true play they. Are deeply. Attuned. To, what. Those instances, of learning are what those instances, of insight, are what, are those moments when the children are, doing. Something, that they haven't done before when. They're encountering, a, problem, they haven't encountered before and so, they, have that. Ability to, take a picture to take a video of those moments and so, the children come back into the classroom they're. Invited, to engage. In a discussion of, their, own experiences. And it's, very, open-ended. It's, not a leading, discussion, the children, are really leading their own description, of their own experience, and what's crucial here is the. Experiences. That they're describing, our, experiences. That have come from their own intention, these. Are things that are deeply, interesting to them because. It's. Coming from them it's what they were just doing it's what they chose to do and so in the classroom that, experience, is what, is considered, the, source. Of knowledge. Of learning that, is the, experience. That the children are being told, that are being communicated to through, the decisions of the teacher is what, is most valuable and so. What you see is you. See discussions. Around problem-solving. You, see complexity. In descriptions, of physical principles, you see children talking, about the rules that they've established you.

See Children talking, about how they've solved conflict, you. Have an opportunity, for children to engage in thinking, about their own thinking they're engaging in metacognitive. Reflection, around, their own decisions, around, their own complex decision-making. And. As. This, takes shape over, time. There's. A decision, that there's. A really, important. Role for children, to take, part in art and. Description. And there. Are broad. Guidelines. There are guidelines for, early education and art as part of those guidelines and so it's important, in the school that children have access to materials for art, they. Decided, that the children, should have an opportunity, every day to, draw a story, of their own play. And. That starts when they're three when they first start in kindergarten and it continues all the way up until they're six so. Every day the child is given an opportunity without. Any other prompt than to draw or, to depict the experience, of your own play and. Again. What you see is you, see an eagerness, to talk about what, was taking place again, for that same reason that that play came directly. From their own intentionality, and what, you see on the back as you see writing and that writing is, the child's, own description. Of their drawing which, is, transcribed. By a teacher or a parent, so. If you think about it you've got fourteen thousand kids that are doing this on a daily, basis, in Angie over, the course of a school year that's about 3.5, million play stories created every year what. You have is a record, of the. Learning of the experience, of the child and you see a medium. For, shared knowledge, for. Shared experience, you. See a, medium. For sharing. Across schools and, again. You see documentation. That comes from the child that's, put on the wall that becomes, the. Primary. Expression. Of the. Value, of the, school, so. Not only does this practice, result, in, deep. Reflection. Problem-solving. Planning, you see schematics. You see the development, of of narrative, storylines, you see these cells one two three four five six one, child starts doing that and all the children start doing it you, see a culture. And a language, develop. From the child's own reckoning. With their experience. Of learning. So. Complexity, I've been using the word complexity, a lot I haven't, really given you guys much basis, for that claim so. I want to share a quote and again. I I. Alison. Gopnik who is a very. Brilliant. Respected. Professor. At UC Berkeley who is on the cutting edge of research, into cognitive development, she, talks about causal. Relationships, causal, mapping, that. Our deepest. Thinking is around cause-and-effect creating. Conditions and, reassessing. Those causes, and effects, making, inferences and then planning, and and that's where imagination. And that's where inference, comes from, so. You see that complexity, that's taking place in environments. Where, rather, than a top-down model, of assessing, specific. Skill. Sets and learning outcomes you're saying the child has a capacity, for, deep complexity, and deep. Causal. Mapping. And. So. We're where. Are we now and why are we here and what's going on in our context, and, there's a debate that's gone on for about. 3,000. Years at least in the West its. Empiricism. On one hand and rationalism, on the other and the, empirical, argument, is. That, we gain, our knowledge our mind develops, from, sensory, input so experience, informs, our knowledge if we don't experience it it's not part of our knowledge and what rationalism, says is that essentially. We're born with little acorns in our minds and they become oak trees but, it's all there and it kind of unravels. Over time and that, has characterized. To. Great, extent our theories, of mind in our and our approaches, to understanding, how we think and how we develop and, as. We get into the 20th century you. Move towards. An understanding of behavior and development a scientific. Description. Of why, we make decisions, to act certain ways and how. We progress. Over, time developmentally. And so. In both, instances, there. Is deep truth to that if I, give my daughter a cookie, she'll get in the stroller that's, behaviorism, that works it's, very limited it shouldn't be a strategy for, teaching, or for respecting, the, ability. Of the child, but. Its present, in how we think about interactions, with children and developmental. Ism which talks about stages. Of development, and it looks at development, as taking place in a linear fashion. It. Posits. That the ideal, outcome is rationality.

Is Rational. Adult thought and that, our roles at or as teachers is to help. Children get from one step to the next step to the next step either in the deepest or the most efficient way and sort of I like to sum it up by saying we, know what comes next, we, can predict what's going to happen next and so we can help children get from that one place to another and a lot has happened since, BF, Skinner and Piaget, were around there's been a lot of new thinking about education, but this is a lineage that still runs very deep and how we think about children and how we educate children how we measure children and how we assess teachers, and so. What happens what happens in, the 80s and 90s what happens with alison gopnik is there, is a rethinking. Of these ideas, of rationalism, of empiricism, behaviorism, of developmental. ISM there, is idea. That comes forward called theory, theory, and it's. There's a there's a there's a elegant. Simplicity. To, it that, I think speaks, to what. We see happening. In Angie play what. We see happening in onji what we have see happening and experiences of true play and the idea is that we're born, with an essential theory. Essentially. The sort of scientific, method that. Through, inputs we. Can, draw conclusions about, cause and effect and as we draw, those conclusions we, refine, our theories and create new theories, so, in a sense there is an empirical. Aspect, we're using these inputs in our experience, and there's a certain, rationalist, aspect we have this essential, theory that we're born with but. What that means is that the more complexity, the more opportunity. You have in terms of inputs the. More space you're given to create new. Theories, to, adjust, your theories to, engage in that kind of sort of Bayesian, adjustment. Of predictions. Of outcomes, based. On new, inputs, then, you have in the period. Of development, between zero and six or zero and eight, essentially. Genius. Like thinking thinking. That isn't constrained, by. Specific. Naming of experiences. And. So, there's a way in which the work that's happening at Google represents. In a way this paradigm, shift I know. That nobody here's gonna tell me how the algorithm, works but. It's not a linear, you. Get from here to there, there, is a consideration. Of a variety of inputs, of thinking, about how things are related and then decisions, made based. On how, that works, in a given situation based. On a universe. Of possibilities and, so. The danger that we have the. Great danger that we have is to, say that, that is a deficient, adult, that. Your, job is to get out of that because, that's not that's not thinking that's not learning let's, get those numbers into you let's get those in those letters into you and particularly. Particularly. In communities, where, there, has been a systematic, denial, of opportunities. For play where. Policy. Where, capital. Has decided that in order to solve. A deficit, we're, gonna teach you earlier, and faster and harder and we're gonna measure you more and now we're gonna measure you we're gonna measure the teachers because if you're not learning your letters your teachers are failing we should take their money away there. Is a very. Vicious, and. Oppressive. Outcome. That. Is born, from ignoring, this. Paradigm. Addict shift, in how, we see the mind and that, shift is, just, now being embodied in a very systematic. Approach, to education and that's what's happening on G and that's why what we're talking about is a revolutionary. Epistemological. Parody. Bag shift away from. Teachers. As keepers, of knowledge to. Teachers, as creators. Of conditions. For. Deep authentic. Learning that, receives, the respect, that it deserves. So. We. Oftentimes talk about on G play in a variety of terms it, can be referred, to I think as a philosophy, I think that's accurate a philosophy, of Education it, can be referred to as a complete.

Comprehensive. Approach to early education, in. Its totality it, consists, of, materials. Technologies. Practices. Environments. But, the reason, it works. Its. DNA, the, reason it's different from a top-down model, of defining. Outcomes, that every kid should have is because. It's a grassroots. Ecology. That is based on respect, for the child for, the family, and for the teacher. And. So that ecology. Connects. All of these points, in. A relationship. That's defined, by those crucial. Elements. Of learning and experience, and. We talked about this in our work and my work for, the last three and a half years has been how do I share this with integrity, with. The world outside of China and that work includes. Working, with pilot, partners, in the United States it includes to talking to parents it, includes, talking, to educators and whenever we look, at what we're doing we, look at these five, principles and if something doesn't feel right I say is. There some issue around. The love is somebody not feeling loved here are we not on the same page about our risk I look. At myself I say why am I not deeply engaged am. I not feeling a sense, of joy from what I'm doing and then maybe we haven't been reflecting, enough there. Is a way in which the. Definition. Of this ecology is these five principles and it stretches beyond. A curriculum. And it's. What creates the strength for it to take place it's. What, creates the. Conditions. For it to grow and it's. Why it can't, be. It. Can't be. Easily. Boiled. Down to, a, simple, set of instructions. It's. Not a boxed. Binder, of lesson. Plans it's. About a fundamental. Change. In the, stance of, the adult. Towards. The child. And. So, you see as this happens, is that, you have support so. As government. Officials see, joyous, children, as parents. See joyous children, they become involved in, the, work of the school in the work of the teacher there's, a whole description, of, how the. Materials, and the environments, have taken shape over time and that, involves, parents, bringing in their, own experiences. Of play as children of. Reflecting. On what, they were doing when they are kids building brick. Ovens for their children in their schools so there's a way in which the creation of this a call. This deep engagement around the learning of the children, allows. For a, virtuous. Cycle of strengthening. Where, the, more you become a part of it the more you can bring into it and. What. We're seeing now is that it's impacting, elementary, education. The. Elementary schools in Angie are getting children who are deeply engaged in the process of learning and so as a result the, entire province jae-joong province, has, eliminated.

Academic. Instruction and testing. And assessment, in, the first year of primary school, so. There is a recognition, that something. Important, is taking place and then it would be a shame, it, would be almost a, crime, to. Stop that from happening to, cut it off too early. So. Again the, role of parents views to be teachers I'm speaking to you guys as a parent it's often seen as the biggest challenge, of schools to. Communicate. With parents and so, that's why part. Of the ecology, is the engagement and the participation, of the parent the parents, ability to, own the same expertise. To, feel the same expertise, the, teachers have and so there's again. Strategies. And there are vehicles, for, that to take place within, Angie. And. Again. Resources. Materials, environments. The things that schools need the, thing that's that schools here need. Become. More. Freely, available, when. The people who make decisions about, them have, a deep, belief. And. Engagement. And what's taking place. So. I want to just briefly touch on the role of Technology, I want to give everybody a, chance for, questions and answers but technology. Is really and, I, mean we're standing here at Google you guys know what technology yes, technology. There's a lot of controversy, over what, the role of technology. Should be in the lives of children and so, when you go into an Angie play, school you. See teachers, with, smartphones. Taking. Video of children. Playing. And. What that video is being used for as we were discussing is, sharing. And reflection. The, children, are. Seeing, their, own experiences. And they're having an opportunity to describe. Them and to reflect on them, it engages children in, an active. Reconsideration. Of their own learning but. Fundamentally. Technology. Is a tool for respecting. The experience, of the child, technology. Is not a passive, medium for delivering content that's, been developed, by adults again to derive, those outcomes. By. You know some some, advisor who said that this is how you can get kids to learn colors, faster.

Technology. Becomes, a tool, that the adult, has to. Document, to value. The learning of the child. It's. Also a, method. For, teachers, to develop for. Administrators, to develop when, you have a. Deep. Record, of children's, experiences. You, have the basis, for engaged. Discussion. About what's taking place you. Have an opportunity to understand, the, learning that's taking place for children and you have the honor the, the opportunity, to understand what decisions, about materials, and environments, what, impact that's having on children, and. You. See the, ability to share with, parents that when, parents see, the, capacity of their child when. They have an opportunity, to. Experience. The. Bravery. The compassion. The, ingenuity. Of their own children again, that's part of the ecology so, insofar as technology, has a crucial role in onji and has, a role in supporting. The development of that ecology. And. From now as we begin to expand. What's taking place and on jitu, sites. In the United States and in other parts of the world technology. Allows, us to communicate across. Distance. To. Share in that professional. Development that understanding. That analysis. With. China with. Budapest. With, Madison, Wisconsin, and so we can share we can talk about and we can think about what's taking place that we can think about what we're doing as adults based on what we're seeing and based on what we're documenting. Again. A. Natural. Development of a practice, of a use from. That, starting, point that. Humble, place of saying. There. Is something, that a child can do that I have no idea about there. Is an ability there. Is a capacity. That I. Have. No ability. To guess or predict, and so what I have to do is I have to seek to understand that and to see that that's my role and so technology is a tool to come out of that because. Once you see that thing you really want to know what's going on and so obviously an auntie that's asking, children what they're doing is letting children draw, that, experience, it's having them talk to each other but as a teacher or as a parent, it's. The opportunity. To review that to think about that to document, that to keep that and. Again. It's, an acknowledgement of. The fact that technology, exists, that. It's powerful that it's unavoidable I think. It's a mistake to, say technology. Is, bad. Children. Shouldn't be exposed to it and then. Go out in the world and see technology everywhere so. It acknowledges, the reality, of technology.

And It, uses it to, crucially. Respect, and reflect, the. Child's. Experience. And learning, so. A typical day on your play school and I know we're getting to the end and so I want to just zoom, through this really quickly but. Again the, primary, experience, of learning is open-ended. Self-determined. Play and that's given, usually at least two, hours every, day but, it's a full-time schedule so there's a lot of other things that happen there is the daily contact that comes when you drop off your child and, pick up your child at school there's, outdoor, play there's also an indoor play there's, time. That's provided, for reflection, for expression, for, self-care, the, children, are encouraged, to take the lead in learning how to use the bathroom, how to drink water how to take care of themselves how to how. To do all those things that are necessary for. Ownership. Of one's own experience and. And then sort of self sufficiency. There's, a lot, of inquiry that takes place and what I call extemporized, pedagogy. I think that there's a term called emergent. Curriculum, and in my understanding it's a little bit different and what happens in on G but it's really about creating, opportunities. For, children, to learn based on their expressed interest, and it's less like what we think of as project-based, learning because, it's more immediately, responsive, to what's happening and. So that teachers do play a role in. Providing. That that sort, of support for the children's interest so I think it's a mistake to think of the teachers as. Standing. Behind a glass wall and, letting, children do whatever they want the teacher has a role of authority of, respect. That they create. Routines. That there are the people that are protecting, the play of the child but they're teachers. It's. Not a free-for-all, it's, not Lord of the Flies. It's, expertise, and its finest really in teaching and so, what, you have from this is you have flexibility. So the teachers can decide how, aspects. Of a day are. Organized. Based on what, they observe in the interest of the teacher and again. That's a deep respect for the teacher in making, decisions about what is most important, based on their knowledge of the children that are in their care and. Protecting. Teacher time and so. Every. Friday is, a half-day and during. That second, part of the day the teachers get together and, they talk about what they've seen that week they share their videos they talk to each other they meet both, within the school and between schools and that. Time. For reflection, that. Time for joyous, engagement. In, understanding. The children, becomes. The basis, for, their decisions, as teachers. Moving. Forward and. Again. Regular, opportunities, for parent engagement parents. Are brought in to take part and play to. Engage. In, documentation. To, engage in sessions. Where a more experienced. Parents, lead them in video analysis, of children's play so. Again, that part of the ecology that that, engagement with the parent the bringing the parent into the experience of the school. And. Now we're really. Bringing. This to. Programs. In the United States that's a really, critical, aspect. Of our work is, that as. Excuse. Me, ond the 14,000, children on g2, 80,000, children now throughout. Who. Joe Meno municipality. It's set now to expand, across Joe John province to all 90 counties and it's become a matter, of national importance. Of the Ministry of Education level. That, these, opportunities for play are, crucially. Important for children the United States. It's, what we're doing is we're working with partners, that see. The value of this that that, see the necessity of this for their community, and so we're really focused, on programs, that serve children that have often been denied. These opportunities, for play, we've. Decided that to create a model that will allow us to scale. This with integrity. With, fidelity. With, purpose, that we have to begin working. With partners, that don't have. Huge. Budgets they don't have the access. To every. New thing that comes out but. With with programs that are that are deeply. Committed to, the importance, and the urgency of this experience, for their children and for their communities, and. So right now we've got partners in Madison, Wisconsin we're, doing this incredible program at the Madison Public Library which is a free, drop-in program, that, with, the public parks there with, Sierra College which, is in California. And Contra Costa College in California and Louise Children's Services in San Francisco, and it's, growing we're getting incredible, interest from across the world this.

Is A map that represents. The. Geography. Of the people that are contacting, us about. The need for this in their community, so. This is not. Something. That is limited to a rural. Part of China or a. Fancy. Play-based, kindergarten. In Palo. Alto, this. Is something that is crucially. Important. To children, throughout. The world because. And. This goes back to we were talking about before, we. Don't know the challenges, that we're going to be facing in, 30 or 40 years and. I. Don't think we're particularly, prepared, for those challenges and so if what we're, teaching is how. To confront the challenges of 50 years ago then, we're in a really precarious. Position. But. If we say provide. The optimal, conditions for children to, understand, the world and themselves to. Solve, problems, to, work. Together to. Understand. The world then, I think that puts us in a much better place, 50. Years from now six, years from now and, so it's incredibly important, and the people that, really, understand. The trajectory. Of our. Societies. That. Understand. The trajectories, of the human minds recognize. This and so, you guys are all here today because you're early adopters, because you saw something that interested, you and those. Early adopters are, parents, and their teachers but, they're also some of the greatest minds, today, thinking, about education. And. So. I want to end with this quote because. It really, brings home the fact that things are changing fast and that, what we need for our children is the ability to. Understand. Themselves and, to. Confront. What. The reality will be when. We're gone, and. So that brings me back to I, wanna say thank you but it brings me back to that first, question. I asked which, is your deepest, memory, of play, and. What I want to tell you is that. We're getting to a point where children. Don't have those memories of play anymore, and so. If I'm gonna talk from the perspective, of a parent I. Have. A sense of responsibility. That when, my daughter who's, three now is working. At. Google, maybe she won't I don't know but she's at a, talk. That. When she's asked, what is your deepest memory of play as a child she. Doesn't draw a blank that. She can speak to that experience, and my hope and that's. What's been part of my parenting, is that, she'll have too many experiences. To. Remember and that she'll, have to choose one, of many and so I want you if your parents, to think about this when, you're with your child when you think about how you schedule their time how, you interact, with them around play what, you expect, of them, take a step back put.

Your Hands down close. Your mouth and. See. What you can see. So. I want to thank you guys for for taking the time to listen for taking the time out of your day I had, a video I wanted to show up my daughter but we're getting really late and I'd love to provide. An opportunity for, anyone to ask questions, that that. Might have them. So. The question, is the cultural, challenges and the regulatory, challenges. Of bringing, on G play to China. The. Cultural, challenges so. The name. On G is is a, county, in China but. What I would say is that. Deep. Authentic. Learning. That. True, learning and true engagement the, experience. Of joy. And of love really. Is more, or less Universal. In. Terms, of acceptance, I mean. I think that's a question of Education and, of of sharing. And our work to share these, ideas and. It's also the work of policymakers. And, scientists. That, the most, advanced, understanding of. Cognitive. Development is reflected, in policy, around education, and around expectations. So, it's the work of parents, to, demand this it's. The work of policymakers, to understand, this and it's, the work of of. All of us really in and it really doesn't, matter where. You happen to be culturally. But. I think. That at the end of the day it comes down to a, commitment, to respect children, and I certainly hope that's not culturally. Specific value, in terms of regulatory issues, the, science, around. Self. Determined, risk is very, compelling, and the, standards, around licensing. For, safety, are not, based on that very compelling, very. Very. Cutting edge science so there's ketchup that has to take place at the, same time we. Live in a democracy and, we can make change and we can make demands and so oftentimes when. We engage in change. You. Hear a lot about why things aren't possible, this, can't happen that, can't happen this can't happen that can happen we're. Working with pilot sites that say we're gonna make this happen they're, figuring out ways to make that happen so if you have the, determination to. Create. The conditions for. What we're describing then. You can figure out how to change those regulations how to work within those regulations, there's always a way, in, in in in, in any context. To, figure out to problem-solve.

Because What onji play is largely about is is, problem-solving, it's about problem-solving, it's about complex problem-solving it's about taking risks. System. Do you feel that we need something. Do. We need a federal, standard, to ensure that students, are learning effectively. That. Is a big. Question I, think. That there is a. Lot. Of, fragmentation. Around. The. Organization. And policy, around education, we, have States and we have we have the federal government a lot, of that is tied into funding, mechanisms, so. There are accountability. Measures that are tied to how schools. Are funded so, it, would be great if the. Federal government wanted. To work with us to, create an assessment of true. Play and true learning so, if that were the case I would certainly support that I think that I would. Absolutely. Absolutely. Advocate, for, more spending, at the local, the, state and the federal level in, children, because there's incredible. Amounts of research that that is a good investment. That that pays, off and. So we have an on G play is we have a very, comprehensive. Clear, scalable, model and so. That, can be the basis for that change on a national level it's the basis for the change on a national level and China and and, I I think our goal is that it's the, basis for change around the world so, we're gonna have to work with the federal government and I, think they'll see how effective that learning is and then, they can create some standards based on that. Oh thank. You guys so much again I. Hope you'll check out some of our resources online and, stay. In touch, thank. You. You.

2018-03-21 21:54

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What an amazing concept! Looking back, I realized we actually did many of these things as children without being told to, when left to our own devices. For example, discussing and agreeing on the rules before starting, and documenting our play sessions by writing and drawing afterwards. Sadly, our kindergartens (and schools) were, and still are, exactly like the first photos he showed of children sitting formally around a small table looking uncomfortable. I truly hope this idea will catch on.

The idea of reflection, documentation, collaboration, negotiations is also part of Reggio philosophy...,

Loved this talk! This idea of learning through play Is very similar to the idea first introduced by Reggio!

I loved how for a minute I stayed staring at him waiting for people to write down stuff on their Pixel 2s

No Q & A ? Everyone must have gone to sleep !

Would have been much better if he used simpler language, precise language , videos of children playing to show how exactly this play is different from normal play if it is . Send him to play school !

I read somewhere (maybe from the post of AnjiPlay facebook page) that Anji Play and Reggio have a close relationship.

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