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Purposeful Play

adult learning behavioral science corporate training gamification motivation Jan 08, 2020

By Monica Cornetti
President, Sententia Gamification

Children learn as naturally as they breathe. Every day they observe and explore the world around them. Everything is new, everything is interesting, and learning is FUN! They process new ideas and information, and even if they do not yet have a verbal language, they work to articulate the joy and excitement of their new discoveries.

Play is critical to the healthy growth and development of children. As children play, they learn through trial and error what works and what doesn’t.

Children use play to learn how to solve problems (Do these two pieces fit together? What does this do?) Through play, children enhance their memory skills as well as their attention span. They move to higher levels of thought as they continue to play in more stimulating environments.

Play teaches children how to cooperate, negotiate, take turns and play by the rules, all necessary skills for both children and adults. Take a few minutes to watch a child play. When was the last time you saw 1/10th of that kind of determination, engagement, and excitement in any of your adult learners?

Where did we get the notion that it was a good idea to remove play from learning? Who developed the idea that as adults we are “Serious people doing serious work,” with no room for play, amusement, or fun?

Is seems that we’ve forgotten that what matters most isn't the end result, but rather the learning experience itself.

Rather than insisting that our adult learners sit through boring lectures and memorization tasks, shouldn’t we create projects and exercises that encourage adult learners to go out and explore the subject matter? Can they gain experience by learning from their errors (as they did as a child) and master their skills sets through first-hand experience?

What if we create activities that allow adult learners to explore, solve problems, and immerse themselves in a simulation that allows them to store the information in their long term memory through repetition and experience?

Can we reboot our corporate learning programs so that we have more discoveries, problem solving and FUN? Can we help to recreate the joy of learning that you see in this child?

I say YES! And when you offer your adult learners this opportunity, I believe you will see a wide range of benefits, including improved comprehension of key concepts and a boost in knowledge retention.

For more articles with ideas on play and fun design thinking for corporate learning programs:

Pushing Boundaries Through Play

Play Makes You Smarter—Seriously

In Search of Fun

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