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The future is playful

Ahead of the FutureLearn course, ‘Exploring Play: the Importance of Play in Everyday Life’, Professor Jackie Marsh of The University of Sheffield argues that play is more important today than ever before – not just for children, but for all of us.

The Future is Playful

We’re now used to regular media reports that decry that ‘play is dead’, and newspaper columnists who lament that children do not play any more and instead spend all of their time sitting in front of a screen. But is this really the case?

In our free online course, ‘Exploring Play: the Importance of Play in Everyday Life’, we’ll demonstrate that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Play is very much alive – across all age groups and all walks of life. The course will explore research that has examined play throughout life, and we’ll consider ideas about play across cultures and through time.

The course doesn’t require any previous knowledge in the area. We’ll introduce you to key theories and concepts, and explore the many definitions there are of play. Given that play is such a fuzzy concept, we’ll take some time to think about the meaning of play from different perspectives and consider its value in terms of its contribution to our daily lives.

One of the main aims of the course is to enable participants to understand the very varied nature of play as it takes place across difference contexts. For example, we look at play in different cultures and consider the way in which the values of a given society impact on the play that takes place within it. The nature of play in external environments is considered, as well as in workplaces and even virtual spaces such as in online gaming.

We hope that participants will join in the discussions about the nature of play in their lives and the lives of those around them and that, in this way, we’ll learn about play in many different countries and contexts. Learning from each other will be one of the most valuable aspects of the course and we’re looking forward to sharing ideas about the value of play in different cultures.

In working together in this way throughout the course, we can challenge some of the common myths that abound concerning play and celebrate its role in everyday life. Far from being seen as ‘child’s play’, we hope to convince you that play is an important aspect of all of our lives and that it is a serious and worthy subject of study. So do join us on the course, as we play around with ideas about play!

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