Play Labs

Can play save the world?” — Quartz, 2018, 4:59

A look into the “play labs” of Bangladesh where children from the working classes are given the time and space to let their imaginations run wild. Research suggests such programs can be vital for the intellectual, creative, and social development of children. Yet people in Bangladesh are still skeptical of the need for play, a cultural attitude very much alive in the United States as well. How might cultural definitions of “success” influence play time? In what ways do societal institutions encourage or discourage play? Why must everything we do have measurable outcomes?

From the video’s description: This class in Dhaka, Bangladesh is part of a global experiment to bring play to kids. At more than 513 “play labs” in Uganda, Tanzania and Bangladesh, kids participate a child-centered curriculum built by a team of global play scholars delivered in a space designed by architects, right down to the corners for stories, crafts and dreaming. The model, funded with $8.8 million from the Lego Foundation and Porticus, and delivered by BRAC, the world’s largest NGO, has been developed over the past three years and draws from BRAC’s over 40 years of experience developing schools for the poorest members of Bangladeshi society. Wealthy parents worldwide send their children to preschools and nurseries that sound a lot like this one—places that incorporate research on child development and neuroscience to enable children to learn through play. But such opportunities are often unavailable for children in the world’s poorest communities, who are more often found at home with parents that are both too busy to play and unaware of its benefits to children, shaping the way they think and interact with the world.