They Are Serious About Play

I didn’t properly record the source, but last week someone tweeted a link to the LEGO Foundation’s document, Creating Creators, which has the subtitle: “How can we enhance creativity in education systems?”

The document is a collection of seven essays on the subject. What interested me was the more international perspective on the topic than I had really previously seen. There are pieces written by the Minister of Basic Education for the Republic of South Africa as well as one by a student of that country’s University of Pretoria. Apparently teaching to the test is also perceived to be a problem in South Africa.

There was also an essay discussing how the  Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) will test for creative thinking for the first time in 2021. The PISA is the cause of much hand wringing over how students in the US compare to students in other countries in different subject areas so it can be worth paying attention to the results when they are issued and using them to initiate conversations.

That is if the PISA is administered next year. I was surprised there was no acknowledgement of the impact of the global pandemic in any of the essays. It turns out that while this document is new to me, it was actually published in 2019. With so much learning disrupted this year, they may decide to postpone the administration of the test for awhile longer.

I poked around the LEGO Foundation’s site a little bit and was not surprised to find they had created “A guide to playful distance learning – online and offline.” While it is focused on educational institutions it has a lot of fun ideas that arts & cultural organizations and libraries can use for their programs –or individual parents can use with their kids.

As the title of this post indicates, LEGO Foundation is serious about play and the Knowledge Base section of their website reflects that. It is a good place to visit for research and ideas on the topic.

About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

I am currently the Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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1 thought on “They Are Serious About Play”

  1. Hi Joe,
    as for gamification in education I recently came across a youtube video from an MIT researcher. The used sensors to test responses while reading, playing etc. Amazing results.
    The finding also apply to art. The testet concert audiences with the same sensors showing engagement. First time viewers: flat! Experienced concert lovers went from one high to the next …
    The video is available here:
    Cheers from warm and rainy Germany


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