Meet Maarten – PLA member profile

Each month we will introduce a PLA member through 5 photos telling their Playful Learning journey. This month, we introduce you to…

Maarten Koeners studies and teaches integrative physiology at the University of Exeter. He integrates insights in the physiology of play and playful learning with his academic practice. Recently he established the Playful University Club, an exciting initiative to form global connections on the creation of holistic pedagogic practices for both students and educators. He aims to enable individual and institutional play and playfulness to foster a culture that supports joyous, authentic transition to the co creation of knowledge and skills, while counteracting a number of barriers to creativity and wellbeing.

Man running through fountain with 2 children watching
Re-connecting with my own playfulness

As a postdoctoral researcher I experienced a steady decline of my mental resilience and creativity until I re connected with my own playfulness. See this blog for my personal story of becoming a Playful Academic. My family, and my own inner child continue to inspire me.

Man presenting in classroom with work cloud on the screen
Physiology of play

Inspired by Stuart Brown’s book Play I am studying the physiology of play – which so far has resulted in this publication and an interactive workshop, both on the relevance of the biology of play for higher education.

Cartoon drawing of a superhero with large letter D on the chest and holding a laptop
Inner Hero

“Everybody can be extraordinary, you just need to find your inner Hero. Find your superpowers and draw yourself as a Superhero. Share a photo of your drawing or a description of your superpowers” This Scavenger Hunt prompt was part of a workshop on “Supporting a compassionate community in higher education using play” that I facilitated for the First and Further Year Experience Forum at UTS (Sydney). See this blog from a participant giving a wonderful overview of the activities we did.

Drawing of a ferris wheel with colourful post it notes stuck on the page
Playful University Club

Together with Joe Francis and Steph Comley we have started The Playful University Club to promote a culture that can foster play within the University by creating capacity for awareness, uptake, and exposure of play and playful learning. This includes monthly club meetings, game nights, game development, and hosting workshops, playful activities, fieldtrips, a fellowship and a festival. See this video for more information.

Man on a bed with a laptop, smiling and touching his toes
Virtual play

Me in action to playfully promote movement during one of the present-day ubiquitous virtual meetings.

Thanks for sharing your story and your photos Maarten.

If you are unlucky, you might be selected as next month’s sacrifice chosen member – we will be in touch!