Play is often described by the metaphor of a “magic circle”: we enter a frame in which, as players, we all agree that “this is play” (Bateson), we negotiate the rules, and we experiment another way to meet, a ludic one, which is both a lighthearted and profound encounter. Something happens: people find a new way of being at the other’s disposal, and want to playfully “take up the challenge” of meeting with another person.
In addition to creating a state of lightheartedness and wellbeing, play embodies narrative qualities that enables all participants to enter INTO CONTACT with one another, and step inside without even realising they are doing so.
In Play-based Learning participants can rarely resist getting involved. What I am offering – which in itself is a powerful tool that always amazes me – is to enable participants to be drawn into the frame through play, lightness and fun leads to the sharing of memories of childhood play or playing with friends as adult.
The combination of moments in which they play games and moments of storytelling is powerful for the group: while play intrigues and captivates, storytelling facilitates a disposition to share, in a protected frame where social masks may fall down. In a LISTENING CIRCLE, participants discover that they share common passions or memory landscapes. While NARRATING THE SIMILARITIES between YOU and ME, the experience makes us come closer and improves our relational dynamics.
If play is indeed the triumph of present over past and future,
where customary logic no longer applies, like Alice, we are drawn in deeper and deeper,
at each moment learning something curious about the universe and about ourselves.
(T.S. Henricks, Play Reconsidered, 2006)