Students and Professors Connecting
We visited the campus of Appalachian State this week. After seeing us present several years ago, Recreation Management professor Joy James wanted to introduce our unique form of kinetic play and our Flop-osophy to her students.
She didn’t just invite a room full of students. A number of professors came to learn and play as well. At one point, when circulating during a practice session, one of the students pointed over to a gentleman tossing (and dropping) a Flop Ball and told me, “that’s our professor.” In addition to getting to learn alongside each, they also participated in partner and group exercises together.
My guess is that these professors may show their playful selves in class (they came to a Flop Ball workshop, after all) and we gave them another tool. Modeling dropping and vulnerability as they practiced a new skill created space for students to get comfortable with it themselves. We see the power of this again and again in our workshops. I think they all felt it, too.
This is backed up by the research of Lisa Forbes, professor at University of Colorado Denver and co-founder of Professors at Play. In her study The Process of Play in Learning in Higher Education: A Phenomenological Study, she found that playful professors inspired vulnerability and authenticity. “It led to participants perceiving their classmates and instructor as personable and approachable. Having space to be authentic humans in the classroom seemed to foster student openness and cultivate relational safety with each other and the instructor.”
Students and professors left with strategies to make learning new skills less daunting and a new tool for playful connection. We loved having the opportunity to provide that for them.