Let Them Play
I grew up playing sports, and I believe they teach children communication skills, work ethic and perseverance. Each week, I witness the power they have to bring cultures together, instill character and teach basic concepts to children when I volunteer with a recreation program in a refugee community outside Atlanta. By Friday night, explaining a game of kickball to kids who barely speak English after they’ve sat in a classroom all week is near impossible.
Rather than try to explain the rules and objective of a game like kickball to the kids, I ask them questions as we run the bases together and role-play to learn the game as well as things as basic as right and left. The need for this type of instruction is probably obvious when learning a new sport, but organizations like Sport sans Frontieres in Haiti are proving the effectiveness of experiential learning by using sports to teach kids life-saving concepts in case of future disasters like the 2010 earthquake.
“Our methodology, based on games, helps children to better take in these lessons than when in front of a blackboard in school,” says Aurelie Peter-Contesse with SSF. “Here they have to move, act and discuss the issues themselves, not just listen.”
Why do we think we’re any different once we grow up? Event professionals are starting to get the picture, changing up classroom formats and trying out gaming techniques to improve learning. Yet for the most part, we still expect kids of all ages (read: including grown-ups) to sit in lecture-style sessions to absorb huge quantities of information. Recent statistics show that attention spans have dropped from 12 minutes to 5 minutes in the past decade, so the need to engage participants in more compelling ways may be getting even greater.
Are there any grown-up games you can incorporate into your meetings?