Best of both worlds: Estelle’s journey in a pioneering role - July 20

Author: Estelle Ashman, Curriculum Content Developer

A little bit of Disney magic.

July 2020

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a bit of a Disney fanatic. The Covid situation has curtailed two trips to Disney this year so I am filling that Disney shaped hole by watching The Imagineering Story on Disney+. This series goes behind the scenes with the people who design and create the parks and I have been completely entranced.

The theme that has come across throughout the series is that when the Imagineers are given time and space to experiment and play they come up with something amazing. Once again the power of play is central to everything. The fact that Walt Disney wanted Disneyland to be a playground for adults as well as children, a place where adults were granted permission to be childlike and play, is no accident. This concept became so central to everything the Imagineers designed, that a playbook was written to ensure that this became part of everything that they worked on.

This got me thinking about the workshops I design for Digital Schoolhouse, what would our playbook look like? Firstly, it would state that every workshop must include unplugged activities, this has become really important to everything we do. Including unplugged activities to illustrate the theoretical concepts being delivered in the workshop helps students to build a deeper understanding and is backed up by the pedagogical theory of semantic waves. This theory identified that following a wave shape between theory, then practice, then a repacking of that practice back into a students own understanding of the theory helps build a deep level of understanding. Secondly, all workshops must be fun. This is central to everything we do, when learning is fun it feels like play (and I'd argue it is play).

Finally, and this is something that has become more and more important to me, the workshops should have a central theme which runs throughout all of the activities contained in it. Just as the Imagineers ensure that all elements of a land within the park fits with the theming, our activities should be built around a central theme.

Perhaps we all need that little bit of Disney magic.

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