The DEY mini-grant of $400 was used to purchase a license for one virtual screening and one in-person screening of the film Beyond Measure. This film talks about the narrowing and standardization of learning in schools and how it harms creativity, joy and learning in children. The film features some brave educators who had the courage to push back on a system that seems to only value what can be measured through narrow quantitative data such as standardized test scores. This is the same systemic problem that has robbed our youngest children of the ability to learn through play in school.
The virtual screening of the film took place in August 2021. We had 113 concerned educators, parents, community members sign up to watch the film! We are now able to communicate and share play advocacy resources with those 113 people via email.
On August 4, 2021, we sponsored a discussion over Zoom with eighteen participants who watched the film and wished to share their thoughts with others. Two play advocates and former DEY Summer Institute panelists, Peter Rawitsch and Maureen McGurk, hosted the discussion. We discussed how play and choice in the youngest years is connected to the project-based learning featured at middle and high school level in the film. Learning through play would prepare children for PBL in the older grades because it fosters creativity, risk-taking and problem-solving skills. We discussed education changes that we wished to see locally, obstacles to those changes and what support is needed to create change. Resources and connections to like-minded people to brainstorm and plan were the most requested areas of support.
Those involved in the discussion made important personal connections with each other that are now ongoing through email and advocacy groups on social media. Resources on play and play advocacy, including those on the DEY website, were shared with participants during the discussion. Sharing of resources will be ongoing.
The in-person screening of the film is currently on hold due to the spread of the Delta variant of COVID 19 in our local area (southeastern Pennsylvania). An update to the report will be sent after we are able to safely hold the in-person event. – Maureen McGurk, Pennsylvania