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“NEVER AGAIN” in the Learning Culture

In lieu of recurring tragedies in school violence and gun control, youth are realizing their empowerment and impact of their voices in the #NeverAgain movement.

Quite similarly, Play Tectonics aims to transform learning culture on many fronts, but at its core is a quest to make school a place that no troubled individual would ever want to return to in order to even a score. That the learning culture is complicit in this sickness is an inconvenient truth that needs to be addressed. We must look at 'School Shooter Syndrome' through a 360 degree lens.

We must get beyond treating symptoms. We are grappling with an education factory controlled by powerful interests in opposition to the needs of the students: specifically, test and textbook publishers and tech companies with outrageously endowed Foundations, not to mention the NRA.

How on Earth do we move the old-school factory system off the backs of our children, let alone try to transform it? The answer: Like wind or solar energy, we tap into a planetary, earth-moving, social energy that has fueled human potential for eons--and we put it to work to fuel our capacity for ingenuity— and to imagineer our way into a new learning culture.


By introducing Play as a major brain food nutrient during the course and discourse of the school day, we can eradicate the seeds of antipathy, alienation, exclusivity, mean-spirited aggression and hate that grow like weeds inside and outside the institutionalized learning culture.

If we look at the nursery rhyme story, Mary had a Little Lamb, Mary was supposed to bring her Lamb to school (if not literally, then figuratively). Mary’s Lamb represents warmth, shared experience, the joy of being together and the capacity to give and elicit care as a living thing: a part of nature. It is the foundation of learning that nature puts in place before kids can focus, find their connection, their receptivity, their humanity—the human stuff that they are told to leave outside the door of their test-obsessed, stress-producing, mind-paralyzing, creativity-destroying, forced-march, which is defended and upheld in the name of education.

What kind of Learning Culture do we want? The model we propose is a play-based learning culture. Not the Play for young children only, but the Play that is a sanctuary of Productive Minds that great scientists and innovators dwell within to do their work. The play that lubricates the wheels of sharing and conversation; the Play that flows inside each individual but which, with neglect, easily withers and weakens like a thirsty plant. Across the many spectrums of the Learning Culture, it’s definitely time for change.

As the Age of the Individual unfolds in our midst to embrace all of society's marginalized peoples. it could be argued that The last frontier of human rights is located in that stark, fluorescent-lit, play-deprived space we call The Classroom; a place where the young and adult alike should be free to think and create as a child; where children can learn free of the trappings and manipulations of adult-branded control and authority. A space where Play guides and governs, none other than by a principle deeply rooted in and defined by the young themselves.

- Jeff Peyton, Founder

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