Each Friday during term we hold professional development seminars for faculty and staff at NCI.
These events focus on learning, teaching and research and we always have interesting and engaging topics.
Today, our colleague Catriona Flood from the Early Learning Initiative at NCI presented a seminar on the pedagogy of messy play.
During the summer a number of messy play sessions were organised by the ELC and children and parents from our hinterland attended. The kids got stuck in so to speak and often when we looked out our windows into the enclosed garden at the college we were treated to the sight of a multitude of little ones splashing, banging, playing with sand, glup, paint and 'coloured stuff'. Yes generally making a mess!
One might ask - is this really learning? Yes it is and it is in its purest form. The natural instincts for inquiry, socialising and 'messing' with the environment are fundamental for development and growth of thinking skills. Catriona's presentation focused on the principles of early school education and the thinking behind each of the play activities. Participants at the seminar were also treated to some messy play objects which they duly played with.
Subsequently the discussion focused on the relationship between play and learning even in third level contexts. Play often provides a safe space where new roles and activities can be explored.
One further thought - the kids who participated in the messy play sessions had their first encounter with a college as 3 to 8 year-olds hopefully we'll see them again as students in the future.