The problem, the author asserts, is that some educators are making their normal (i.e. boring) tasks more fun by adding games to things such as literacy or numeracy tumbles. This is not play based learning. Play based learning is literally a time or chance for learners to play and explore their world. One of the main things I want my learners to realize is that no matter what they do, they are learning something. I told this once to a class of mine and one boy made a smart-alec remark (admittedly, I see that as a positive), but I turned it back on him and said "You've just learned how I react to silly remarks. Next time, you'll probably stop and think before you do." His expression when I said that was priceless. The point I'm trying to make is that no matter what a human being is doing, they are learning something in the process.
In my opinion this disconnect between actual play based learning and what some educators call play based learning stems from educators wanting to do the "latest thing" but not actually understanding the why behind it or not being willing (or able) to let go of the structure that has been indoctrinated into them. As educators, we need to go deeper and understand why we do what we do - all of it.
I've had some interesting discussions around this idea lately and it has always been something I've thought about as it pertains to my practice. One of the few things I actually remember from my University days is a simple formula (which I may or may not have already shared on this blog):
FUN = ENTERTAINMENT
FUN + REFLECTION = EDUCATION
This is very relevant when it comes to play based learning. If we allow learners to play, that reflection can actually be more powerful than any other direct acts of teaching that we could provide. Yes, they do need some direct acts of teaching, but it is my belief that play can motivate children to want to read. To want to write. To want to learn how to manipulate numbers. Obviously in reality we need to teach these things regardless of desire, but we can use the play to make learners desire.
For our part, I do believe my Oresome School does offer a great assortment of play based learning opportunities for our learners. The pictures throughout this blog show our morning provocations and our loose parts playground.
I think, as educators, we need to make sure that we ask ourselves why we're doing things and then actually make sure that we acting consistently with those reasons.