Playfulness in academia – Nicola Whitton


1. What is the first things that comes to mind when reading the sentence ‘The Playful Voices of Academia’?

Specific playful academics – Rikke, Alex, Alison, etc.



2. What are some important concepts and strategies that can be used to unlock playfulness in academia? What is it, in your opinion, to have a playful voice as an academic? 

For me, the magic circle – creating safe play spaces for improvisation and innovation, where people can try things out in a supportive environment without fear of failure in the ‘real world’. To have a playful voice is the ability to be open and challenge re-conceived norms in a playful way.



3. What does playfulness change about the university, when you talk about playfulness in adult learning? 

Pedagogies – move from didactic to active; change in role of teacher from owner of knowledge to facilitator of knowledge creation; move to a more experimental creative space.



4. How do you understand play and playfulness in relation to academia? What are central potentials and problems to be mindful of?

The use of the terminology around play and playfulness is contentious. Play is not suitable for the solemnity and gravitas of academia – problems with use of the words, not necessarily the concepts. 



5. What would YOU like to ask or read more about in relation to play, playfulness & academia (max 280 characters including spaces)?

Practical ways in which people have embedded playfulness into their practices, teaching but also working and leadership. Research evidence on the impact of playfulness. Short ideas and tips (101 ways to make a meeting playful).





Nicola Whitton, originally from Edinburgh in Scotland, Professor and Centre Director at Durham University. Lots of playful teaching, research, and living.








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Nicola Whitton

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Nicola Whitton

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