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Ludic Learning in the Park

I decided to have tacos in the park today and do a bit of journaling. As I looked for the perfect picnic table, I was enchanted by the site and sound of two musicians singing and playing "Sweet Home Alabama" with their guitars to a group of toddlers, moms and nannies.


"Are they doing this little concert just for them?" I thought. I was able to enjoy the concert with them for a few minutes. After the songs were over, a duck from the pond quacked on cue, and everyone applauded in delight. The musicians were finished playing for the afternoon and began to pack up. They retrieved a number of baby-sized guitars back from the toddlers and packed up. I realized this was actually an organized music class- structured very simply, like a concert in the park.


This inspired me to write down a question in my journal: "What do teachers need the most in the classroom today?"


On a side note, not only am I teaching this fall, but I am also a student again. I had to enroll in two courses to complete my teaching credential in ESL for the State of California. After being a college student for over twenty years and completing my doctorate, this was not an easy pill to swallow. I thought my student days were long behind me, and I find myself eating some humble pie. I am taking some much needed lingustic courses, one being beginning French. I recently returned to the city of my childhood after living several years in New York City, and now, I am literally back to learning my A, B, C's. My classes are on Zoom, although useful, they are long and tedious: the lectures, the drills, the same old methodologies week after week. I keep looking at the clock and wondering how I will endure this for ten more weeks.


I am restless; time to stop writing. It's time to look for the turtles in the pond. I walk a bit, then see a sign on the fence advertising an upcoming community class for children. It says "Learn through art and play."


That's just it, isn't it? Isn't this the best way to learn?


I don't know about you, but I always have to take a break from the monotony. I need variety in what I eat, where I go, and what I do. I get bored if I continuously do the same things over and over again, in the same way for too long. This is why I have wanderlust. I know life does not always offer entertainment and variety, but I want to have as much fun as possible. Isn't this what we all want- both as teachers and students? I once read a quote that said "Create a life you don't need a vacation from." Sounds good, but is it really feasible?


Authors Sharon Lauricella and T. Keith Edmunds of Ludic Pedagogy: A Seriously Fun Way to Teach and Learn state that if a teacher is having fun planning a lesson plan, the class will probably be fun for their students as well: "Imagine laughing out loud just thinking about what might happen when students respond to a question or participate in an activity" that you planned for them (Lauricella & Edmunds 2023). Perhaps this was an activity you learned first in a fun workshop. Imagine students and teachers who can't wait to get back in the classroom to have more fun! Could learning actually be this fun for most of the time?


For now, how about we all get together in the park and sing together with baby guitars, turtles, ducks, tacos, and all? I highly recommend it!


Please see video below of a fun activity we did in our TESOL Drama Florence, Italy workshop called "New York!" in 2019!




A picture I took years ago in Central Park in New York City years ago.

A Singer in the Park by Notre Dame in Paris, 2013

Marisol Santana in the Park under the Eiffel Tower, 2013



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