Maria Battor

Playworker

I am currently completing my masters degree in education policy, following a bachelors degree in education and anthropology. In my studies, I have discovered how the intersection of education and anthropology sheds light on how educational environments interact with basic human needs such as play, movement, and belonging. These needs, mediated by thousands of generations of evolution, find satisfaction or deprivation in every environment humans create for themselves and each other. As I have delved into the details of practice and theory that form and underpin our educational system, I have become more and more impressed with the power and wisdom of children. Across environments they seek to incorporate play and form social alliances, even when these actions are forbidden by grownups. They are powerful. They are smart. They are strong. And their drive to know is a key force of their nature, prioritized by thousands of generations of evolution.

I have held these beliefs about children for over a decade, but until last spring had not connected them to the concept of play. Last spring, I first heard play described as “What children do when no one is telling them what to do” and understood the responsibility for adults of highly valuing play, as it expresses the wisdom and power that children carry. Only after comprehending this did I realize the tremendous value in adventure play programs such as KOOP, that seek to give kids the least hindrance possible to playing in the ways they choose. I am thrilled to be on the KOOP team this spring, excited to work within a structure that allows me to let children be who they are and play in the ways they choose.

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