Why do learning and play seem locked in opposition sometimes? When it’s through play that we do our best learning…

Let me start with a contrarian point-of-view: I don’t like edutainment.

What do I mean by that? Am I a stodgy professor who wants to keep play and fun out of the learning process? Certainly not. In fact, my research at the MIT Media Lab focuses on ways to integrate play and learning. I have found that many of people’s best learning experiences come when they are engaged in activities that they enjoy and care about. Based on these ideas, I have helped develop new toys that provide children with opportunities to learn as they play (and play as they learn).

So why don’t I like edutainment? The problem is with the way that creators of today’s edutainment products tend to think about learning and education. Too often, they view education as a bitter medicine that needs the sugar-coating of entertainment to become palatable. They provide entertainment as a reward if you are willing to suffer through a little education. Or they boast that you will have so much fun using their products that you won’t even realize that you are learning—as if learning were the most unpleasant experience in the world.