5 Ways You Can Be A Game Changer For Learning

“This world requires a new paradigm for growing up and therefore also for education,” Bill Drayton wrote last year in Stanford Social Innovation Review. “Just as 50 to 100 years ago society took the radical step of saying that every person must master written language, now we must insist that every person have the social skills necessary to be an effective, confident changemaker before age 21.”

If the question is how, there’s a growing body of research and evidence that suggests that playful learning -- not rigid structure -- is the answer.

“Play is the most effective and inspiring way in which children learn the necessary skills for the future,” argues Mirjam Schöning, Global Head of Programmes and Partnerships at the LEGO Foundation. “Playing involves a constant process of ‘trying, failing and trying again’ that helps us develop our creative, communicative and critical thinking skills.”

This shared understanding is why earlier this year the LEGO Foundation and Ashoka joined forces in an effort to make play (“one of the highest achievements of the human species”) a priority in schools and their neighboring communities. Together, they launched the “Re-imagine Learning Challenge,” which will award 10 innovators in education with more than $200,000 in cash prizes, as well as technical assistance and in-kind support. 

That’s just the beginning. The joint initiative will also identify and elect 30 Ashoka Fellows, each leading systems-changing initiatives in the learning space, and also facilitate a “Re-Imagine Learning Globalizer” to scale-up solutions already driving impact at local and regional levels.

While this year’s challenge is closed for entries, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved. 

Couldn’t make it to the 2014 IDEA Conference in Billund, Denmark, the birthplace of LEGO, where innovators and educators from around the world gathered to celebrate a belief in the importance of learning through play? No problem.

You can still read interviews with leaders in education like Boston College’s Peter Gray, or head to the Knowledge Hub to hear from people like Harvard’s Dr. Tony Wagner.

And in this short video (produced by the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education), the LEGO Foundation makes a case for why it’s not what children learn, but how they learn -- especially in the critical years of early childhood.

To start, check out this report which outlines how play can transform learning to empower a generation of creative, empathetic, and engaged lifelong learners: “Social Innovation Mapping: Entrepreneurial Patterns for the Future of Learning.”

And be a part of our Re-imagine Learning Challenge community on Facebook. It’s the best way to receive competition updates, as well as stories from innovators and tips on how to bring playful learning to your school or community.

You can help us map the landscape of innovation in education -- and contribute to a global network of parents, educators, administrators, and social entrepreneurs -- by connecting with us online at changemakers.com/play2learn or by email at [email protected].

We’ve also announced Pacesetters in the Re-imagine Learning Challenge, and they’re eager to hear from you. Hop over to Changemakers.com to offer feedback, make connections, and share insights with our most compelling group of learning innovators.

The process is simple, and we're ready for your participation -- we promise.

Otherwise, connect with us on Facebook to stay informed about the latest Challenge updates. Or join us on Twitter (@ashoka, @changemakers and @LEGOfoundation), where we’re using the hashtag #play2learn to share stories about the power of play and offer tips to help turn students into purposeful creators.

If you're designing environments where kids and adults learn through play, whether at home, in a classroom or on a playground, we want to hear your take on the future of education.