Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Play is Real

I talk a lot about Play and even close my emails with the phrase “PLAY to learn!” It’s so much more than a catchy slogan, or a fun idea— it works.

Recently I discovered Teaching Games For Understanding a concept in the physical education world that utilizes this very idea—that through play we actually absorb concepts and real, true, lasting learning takes place. It’s an idea I’ve known to be true for years and I was so excited to learn that it is part of the dialogue all over the world!

Let’s think about it. If we tell a child to work on their stance, what do they hear? What does “grip” mean to a seven year old? Posture? Alignment? Etiquette? I could go on. But what if we could teach all of these very real (and important) specifics in ways children internalize? What if there was a way to teach alignment without having the word itself be the most important element?

I’ll tell you “What If?” because this is what we do every day at KTUGA. By playing games to learn skills, we allow the doors of learning to open. Instead of being inundated and threatened by “getting it right,” children are encouraged to explore. PLAY is many things:  it is dynamic, it is moving  and fluid, it is real and it is also joy and fun. The children then are so positive about whatever activity we are engaging in they are not just motivated to work harder—but to want to work harder. And as an important result they LEARN – and they keep coming back to learn more.

What do they learn? In addition to the basic mechanics, they learn the love of the game. Golf, in many ways, is the paradigm sport. It operates at the focal point of social, emotional, physical, and cognitive development. Teaching through play not only helps form the skill of the sport—it also helps form the player.  Being mindful of the critical, and incredibly impressionable stage that children are at it is of the utmost importance. It sets the tone and structure for how we teach the lesson. This approach allows us to teach the lesson so that the children can learn the lesson AND therefore LOVE the lesson.

Teaching through PLAY cultivates a life-long love of learning…in all things. And as a result we are growing golfers with an appetite for growth and learning. Let’s PLAY golf.

Teaching Games For Understanding  (Griffin, Mitchell, & Oslin, 1997; Werner, 1989)

Post by mari