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Playful teaching between freedom and control: exploring the magic circle in higher education

Nørgård, RT and Whitton, NJ and Toft-Nielsen, C (2016) Playful teaching between freedom and control: exploring the magic circle in higher education. In: Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) International Annual Research Conference 2016, 07 December 2016 - 09 December 2016, Newport, Wales.

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Abstract

Within higher education today, a culture is emerging characterized by fear of failure, avoidance of risk-taking, extrinsic motivation, and goal-oriented behavior – what we call a ‘gameful approach’ to HE. This paper uses the concept of ‘the magic circle’ – a central metaphor within game studies and play culture – to explore an alternative more ‘playful approach’ to teaching and learning. Here, we highlight the potentials of playful teaching through adopting a ‘lusory attitude’ oscillating between free-form play and rule-bound systems. This development of a more playful approach to HE is promising as it invites for a different type of teaching and learning environment, providing a safe educational space, in which mistake-making is not only encouraged, but engrained into the system. Taking up a ‘lusory attitude’ in the magic circle can create freedom, support playfulness and intrinsic motivation, and make HE emerge as an open educational process rather than as high-score assessment product.

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