Last month I attended the first ever Africa Play conference in Pretoria, South Africa hosted by the Department of Basic Education, UNICEF South Africa, ADEA and the LEGO Foundation…it was playful to say the least. The conference organizers (I suspect LEGO in particular) went big and bold with the production. There were playgrounds with various hands-on activities (with and without LEGO’s), traditional cultural dances, oral storytelling about the history of Mathematics and an impromptu visit from Elmo!
4th Industrial Rev: Are we Killing and Commodifying Play?
A recurring theme of the conference was the Fourth Industrial Revolution and equipping children with the skills for the future. I’ve read some very valid and much needed critiques on the social construction of the Fourth IR that as usual, are being used to benefit the few. One silver lining has been the urgency to overhaul the detrimental and colonial education systems on the African continent with systems and pedagogies which promote creativity and critical thinking, but at what cost and for who? Should the priority be dismantling archaic systems because they don’t work and children aren’t learning or because the machines are coming? The discussion on how to assess and measure creativity at this stage was a bit alarming. If we’re already jumping to “how much are children producing” versus focusing on “how can we create the best learning experiences for children”, it seems that we will maintain the status quo and re-create old systems in new forms.
I remain hopeful…but concerned. I still had a blast building #thingamabobs!