This series, designed for educators working with children age 3-11 in a range of contexts, explores 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
Children use play to understand their worlds. Children’s right to play is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child. Because schools are designed to help children make meaning, they should take advantage of this evolutionary strategy for meaning making. Schools – especially those tasked with developing participatory citizenship – have a responsibility to engage play beyond free play or gamification. Children have a right to playful learning.

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 has been a classroom teacher working with children ages 3 - 11 in public school settings, and pedagogical director of Portland Children's Museum and Opal School. She is currently a pedagogical consultant working with educators world-wide who wish to enrich their practice as teacher-researchers committed to strengthening relationships between play, beauty, and justice. Susan's work has appeared in a variety of publications in the fields of museum education, leadership, and classroom practice. She is the author of Story Workshop: New Possibilities for Young Writers from Heinemann (2021).
Matt Karlsen
Matt Karlsen dedicates his efforts to helping fellow educators expand their imagination regarding their work and its relationship to larger questions of democracy and justice. Over the last twenty-five years, he has developed his understanding about those relationships as a teacher (mostly at the upper-elementary and middle school levels) and facilitator of professional development (including as Director of Opal School's Center for Learning). Matt serves on the Board of PILA global and hopes you will join him in cultivating nests for refugee children.

3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th March 2021
Each session is for 2 hours and the course is for 4 sessions.
PST 8:00 am | EST 11:00 am | London 4:00 pm | Zurich 5:00 pm | Dubai 8:00 pm | India 9:30 pm
USD 400 Per Participant
USD 350 Per Participant for a Group of 6
INCLUDES: Certificate of Participation for 10 Professional Development Hours