I wish to be as transparent as possible about the way in which I will conduct this enquiry. My work to date and longstanding interests in imagination, creativity and play reveal me to be an advocate of all three in tertiary learning. I have been inspired by the many inventive examples of play that I, in close collaboration with many colleagues, have come across. I have seen, therefore, evidence of the positive impact of play as tertiary pedagogy. I may therefore be perceived as ‘having skin in the game’ – that is to say, not being a neutral and impartial observer and investigator.
However, my intent in this present enquiry is not to act as a play evangelist, trying to persuade people of the value of play, despite my personal interests. Rather, I am interested in creating dialogue through multiple means to consider the presence of play in higher education teaching and provide a space within which participants, and I, can consider, extend, critique and review how we view play in HE. Such openness will involve respecting both the passion and commitment some will have for play-based learning and the resistances of those for whom play has no place in HE, while also respectfully exploring the views presented.
I (along with participants and those who discuss or inform this work along the way) am on an unfinished journey, with questions, gaps, subjectivities and ambiguities in my own understanding of play, alongside my clearer and more strongly held views about it. In recognising this partiality I also acknowledge that researcher and participants alike will not be neutral in their thinking because this will – I suggest – be closely affiliated to the values each espouses.
I am open to the findings of this enquiry, but anticipate certain things to occur as it begins, and these I list here:
Expectations at outset of research
- That there will not be a single, universal interpretation of play
- That there will be mixed practice in terms of the use of play to teach management theories and concepts
- That additional data on the use of play will consolidate and extend existing knowledge while also revealing practices, beliefs and values hitherto unknown
- That the notion of play will be controversial for some participants
- That new perspectives on play and its value in HE will be surprising for some participants
- That new perspectives on play and its value in HE will be positively received/generated by some participants
- That the perceived value of play will be highly variable and not all related to pedagogy, but rather to relaxation/social behaviours
- That there will ambiguity surrounding notions of value in the BSS rhetorical sense around theories of play, but rather attached to play itself
- That the extent to which certain learning cultures adopt play and playful approaches may be impacted by disciplinary, sectorwide and national influences