Naomi Golad on Play and Essential Life Skills

NaomiFieldOfHope.1411.png

"The most effective education is letting the child play with wonderful things."  - Plato 

As you know, the toy industry is one in which businesses compete to invent, produce and market products. Bluntly put we add value to our economy and society by creating tangible entertainment goods. Born to a dad that refused to grow up, the toy industry has always been part of my life.  Having grown up in the lion’s den – i.e. Goliath Games’s game testing center, I decided to explore gameplay a little deeper. How can we, as a toy and game business, extent our impact beyond the marketplace? 

And so I jumped to another type of gameplay: sports. Founded on pedagogical principles, the Israeli NGO “Mifalot – Education and Society Enterprises” uses the fun of team sports to coach essential life skills. No text books needed, just a good coach, a team and some rules. Through gameplay Mifalot annually impacts 30,000 children and youth at risk in developing team skills, setting goals, persisting and helping them understand the basics of a healthy lifestyle. In fact, in today’s information overflow and “just Google it” mindset, traditional education has lost its usefulness. More than that, difficulties concentrating in the face of constant stimuli and the exponential growth in ADHD calls for game-like education. Furthermore, gameplay helps those that struggle with themselves understand that they’re not a burden to society, but have a lot to contribute (i.e. individuals with special needs, such as autism, psychiatric illnesses, and more). Not to forget ‘psychology of mind’ and how we perceive “the other”. Gameplay allows you to forget predefined stereotypes of your team mates. And that’s how Mifalot creates hope for the future: it uses the universal passion for soccer to engage Israeli and Palestinian kids to play together on the same team.  

And it’s all because we feel happiest when we are engaged in something, or in “the flow” as Csikszentmihalyi would put it. Toys and games help us (and our children!) in doing so – getting lost in play. And without noticing the magic happens: we learn a great deal when we play a game – making gameplay an extremely powerful educational tool.  

Want to know more about the work Mifalot does? Contact me on: naomigolad@mifalot.co.il