What does playful learning look and feel like in South African schools? In this paper we put forward two hypotheses that address this question: a) learning through play in South African schools involves the interrelated experiences of ownership, curiosity, and enjoyment and b) for South African learners and educators, Ubuntu is a central part of playful learning. To explain these hypotheses, we introduce the South African “Indicators of Playful Learning”, a model of what playful learning looks and feels like in the nation’s classrooms. We explain the research methods—including analysis of classroom observations and interviews with learners, teachers, and principals--used in formulating these hypotheses, explore the connections between Ubuntu and playful learning, and share examples of playful learning from South African classrooms to illustrate our hypotheses. We discuss implications of our work, note the preliminary nature of our findings, and suggest next steps for research. Overall, the paper makes the case for a South African pedagogy of play and, by defining the phenomenon of learning through play, begins to explore what such an approach to teaching and learning might involve.   

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