Riddle of the spirit: Promoting sustainability through playful learning design in Finnish education
School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
P1 OPINNÄYTTEET D 2018 Wong
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AbstractChildren are learning every moment; every childhood experience could influence their life-long values, behavioural development towards a sustainable way of living. To understand the new complex phenomena and make changes, children need relatively different competences, such as eco-literacy, empathy and systems thinking. Play, as a key way to explore the world, is seen as a significant element for promoting education for sustainability in childhood. Therefore, this thesis presents a new playset design as an alternative learning experience for children to study the abstract concept of sustainability. Setting Finland as the research context, this research examines how play design might promote climate education with diverse playthings and activities in Finnish early childhood and primary schools. The aim is to enhance children’s environmental knowledge, awareness and sense of responsibility, thus supporting teachers promoting relevant topics as ready-made learning materials. The set consists of one riddle as the storyline, seven playful activities with paper-based toys and templates. During the play, students acquire knowledge progressively and build the connection between themselves and climate issues through the story of an unwell “thunderstorms spirit”, inspired by Finnish myths, as core discussion. On the whole, the pedagogical framework combines elements of purposefully framed play, multi-literacy, phenomenon-based learning and imaginative education to deliver the learning goals of education for sustainability. The weight of this study lies on the practical design process of the playset. It involves methodology of transdisciplinary design research, double-diamond model, design thinking and user involvements. Contextual research includes interviews with educators and teachers, observation in a kindergarten, workshops, an analysis of the Finnish curriculum with a selected education model EarthCore by Worldwatch Institute. Further research will be collecting feedback from users to understand the exact application and produce more playful learning materials with other sustainability topics.
Thesis advisorLee, Bang Jeon
play design, education, sustainability, Finnish primary education, Finnish early childhood education, playful learning