MISCHIEF #PlayLearn21 Day 3

Guest Blogger: Elliott Spaeth (he/him)

Hi, I’m Elliott and I’m a neurodivergent, disabled, trans guy. My job is teaching other lecturers how to teach in an inclusive way. I love video games, cats, cooking, and YA fiction.

In the words of Helen Williams, “Getting up to #Mischief this morning was challenging and exhausting and fun.” The exhaustion isn’t surprising given that Helen walked 4km (or possibly even 8km) just to start being mischievous.

In my experience, mischief can be both energising and exhausting, even when hours of physical exercise aren’t involved. But what triggers this strange dualism? I would say the joy and fear of deviating from people’s expectations has a big part to play.

It is the outlook of the Mischief Maker and of those around them that impacts any ensuing energy and/or exhaustion.

For me, mischief is most fun when I am surrounded by people who will delight in my antics. The sheer joy of surprising people in a positive way can feel like flying. Conversely, I find maintaining my natural playful, mischievous nature exhausting when those around me disapprove. Perhaps this is because I identify more with the “lawful” or “neutral” character traits than the “chaotic” trait (within the moral alignment system used in Dungeons & Dragons, a tabletop roleplaying game. For the chaotic among us, it might be that evoking disapproval in others brings the same joy I get when others are pleased with me.

Dungeons & Dragons dice 2. By Lydia. CC BY 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/lydiashiningbrightly/3423990219

As a neurodivergent person (I’m autistic and ADHD), my life has often felt like I’m trying to maintain mischief while being strongly encouraged to conform at all costs. For those who are interested in this idea, I recommend looking into literature around “camouflaging” or “masking” in autistic (or otherwise neurodivergent) people.

Staying mischievous can feel like a bold, dangerous act, especially when conformity is presented as the only acceptable choice. But in reality, conforming feels like it dulls a part of my soul. A little spark goes out. I saw sparks in the eyes of those I met at my first Playful Learning Conference in 2019.

So my parting message to you is…

…As long as it’s safe to do so (because sometimes it may not be), stay mischievous, and keep your spark.

Elliott (follow me on Twitter at @ElliottSpaeth).

3 thoughts on “MISCHIEF #PlayLearn21 Day 3”

  1. I love that phrase- “The sheer joy of surprising people in a positive way can feel like flying.”
    To me it sums up the joy of being in flow, being immersed in a game. I too strive to set up situations in my class for that joy. The interactions that take place and the playful space for children to respond without fear are so rich!

  2. I so identify with this: “The sheer joy of surprising people in a positive way can feel like flying.” I want my students to learn in an environment where they often feel surprise and delight. I guess all of us involved in Playful Learning probably feel the same. Thanks for sharing, Elliott.

Comments are closed.