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  • Writer's pictureAlice Smith

Learning compassion and play: In conversation with Amy and Apurva

25 June 2021

Last week, Amy and Apurva ran a workshop for Kinder Exeter on a student’s perspective of play and compassion. Following their brilliant session, I sat down with them on Zoom to find out more.

Apurva is a computer sciences student, who enjoys walking, hiking and café hopping, as well as playing boardgames. Amy is a modern languages student who has her own improv comedy podcast, and is involved with Hide and Seek Society, climbing and skateboarding. Whilst play is a large part of their time at university, none of it is in the classroom, so they are taking the initiative to make higher education more engaging with the Playful University Club.

How do you think being playful at university has helped your learning?

Amy explained that being playful has changed her mindset when it comes to learning. Having gone to a competitive secondary school, Amy had a strong focus on grades, but says that being playful has helped her enjoy learning.

“I’ve been trying to look at learning as more of a choice and have made more of a conscious effort to do so since being involved with the Playful University Club. I’m trying to enjoy what I’m learning about and learn for fun rather than just trying to pass exams.”

Apurva discussed how it helps her socially too.

“Being playful keeps it fresh, it keeps it fun and enjoyable. You can also do it as a group which is great.”

Amy agreed with Apurva, saying that collaboration with other classmates might not otherwise happen if you weren’t playing. She says “creating something together brings the group together”.

What skills do you think you have learnt from being playful?

Apurva discussed how being playful has developed her creativity.

“Creativity is so important in today’s world. We’re constantly looking for solutions to ideas and problems. If you use play in your usual life, you develop your creative skills a bit more and you can draw on that in the future.”

Amy added that working with different people has developed teamwork.

“At the Playful University Club, there’s a few students but mostly it’s teachers and researchers and people who I would never talk to aside from the fact that we do this. It’s brought us together with loads of different people who I’m now in touch with, which is pretty awesome.”

How do you think more people could implement play into their life?

Amy discussed how the obvious thing would be board games and card games, but playfulness is about finding out what you enjoy. For Amy, that is making memes.

Apurva says that playing will feed into other aspects of your life.

“It doesn’t particularly have to be about learning, it can just be you playing a board game at the end of the day with your friends. If you build that over time, you’ll start to use it in other ways in your life, which is quite cool.”

Do you think that play and compassion are linked? If so, how?

Apurva believes playing develops empathy.

“In play you’re involved in a situation, even if it’s hypothetical, that you haven’t been in before, so you think about how you’d react in certain situations and that can make you more empathetic, which could result in you being more kind”

Whilst it’s not the most obvious link, Amy says “you just have to take a step back and notice it”.

“Compassion is about going out of your way to do nice things for other people and think about how other people feel as Apurva said. You go out of your way to play so it makes sense that the two are linked”

Finally, what are your favourite games?

After a lot of deliberation, Apurva settled on the Sims.

“The Sims is really fun and you get to create characters and live in that world. In terms of board games, I love scrabble, I play it a lot. Also maybe Cluedo or Jenga.”

Amy also loves the Sims and playing games with her dad.

“My dad’s quite competitive so we play Dobble a lot. I also love Stardew Valley. It’s like Animal Crossing, but when you come back, people don’t get angry at you for leaving. You can leave the game for a year and everything in the game will be fine.”

You can find out more about Amy and Apurva’s workshop here.

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