Opal School proposes a professional development experience exploring the power of Playful Inquiry The sessions will explore theory and practice in a way that invites teachers to imagine and investigate implications to their practice.
Participants will:
  • Deepen their practical understanding of the relationship between play and meaning-making
  • Extend their commitment to the role of documentation in advancing practice
  • Embrace the arts and languages for learning and the power of the aesthetic dimension in deepening thinking
  • Explore the power of improvisational approaches to living
Anticipated section focuses
Day 1: The Power of Playful Inquiry
Playful Inquiry is a pedagogical approach that stands apart from free play or gamification. Children have a right to playful learning. Schools - especially those tasked with developing democratic citizenship - have a responsibility to engage play. Children’s right to play is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Children use play to understand their worlds. Because schools are designed to help children make meaning, they should take advantage of this evolutionary strategy for meaning making.

Day 2: The Unique Gifts of Childhood
Children have fresh and insightful ways of perceiving the world that offer us new ways of seeing and thinking when we engage in practices of listening, observation, and dialogue. As adults engage in a process of documentation, they create opportunities for children to participate as citizens who matter to the life of the community.

Day 3: Courage and Collaboration
Emotion is a central component of cognition: thinking and feeling are fundamentally interwoven. Through inter- and intra-personal experiences, dialog, and use of the arts, Playful Inquiry takes advantage of this insight from the neurosciences to develop habits of courage and collaboration by welcoming the life of the emotions to the life of school. Building from and with emotions is a central part of the aesthetic experience.

Day 4: Nurturing Discomfort with Certainty
In Playful Inquiry, people practice reimagining power structures, leading to new ideas about how we want to be together. In Playful Inquiry, people negotiate uncertainty and ambiguity in a community of people with divergent beliefs and values. People with lesser tolerance for uncertainty are less welcoming of others’ perspectives and are more supportive of authoritarianism. Through participatory processes that heighten empathy, reflection, and imagination, Playful Inquiry supports a welcoming attitude toward uncertainty (and a discomfort with certainty.)
Susan Harris Mackay
Susan Harris Mackay is Pedagogical Director at Opal School (opalschool.org) and Portland Children’s Museum, where she has worked with children and teachers since 2001. As a teacher, researcher, author, and parent, Susan relies on the strong relationship between beauty and justice to shape learning environments that promote freedom.
Tara Papandrew
Tara Papandrew has worked with Opal School since its inception in a variety of leadership roles: Director of Museum Programs & Outreach (2002-2008), Director of Opal School (2010-2014), and Teacher-Administrator (2014-present). This path has been fueled by her curiosity about children: who they are, what they imagine, and how they interact with the world. She seeks connections among children, materials and ideas. In this work, she thrives on playing with her creativity and her understanding of systems-thinking.

30th October 2020
Zurich 5:00 am | Dubai 7:00 am | India 8:30 am | Hong Kong 11:00 am | Melbourne 2:00 pm

6th, 13th, 20th November 2020
Each Session is for 2 Hours
Zurich 5:00 am | Dubai 8:00 am | India 9:30 am | Hong Kong 12:00 pm | Melbourne 3:00 pm
USD 400 Per Participant
USD 350 Per Participant for a Group of 6
INCLUDES: Certificate of Participation for 10 Professional Development Hours