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MIC to Shine a Light on the Power of Play with Major International Education Conference in March

‘Revolutionising Education Through Play’ Conference organising committee in MIC Limerick Quad with T-Rex and dancers

Pictured (L-R): Revolutionising Education through Play Conference 2024 Organising Committee Dr Sylvaine Ní Aogáin; Prof. Emer Ring, Dr Maurice Harmon and Dr Lisha O’Sullivan with Karah Delany on the left, T-Rex front and centre and Niamh Clancy on the right at the conference launch.

The third ‘Revolutionising Education Through Play’ Conference at MIC Limerick on 2 March will explore the importance of play in educational settings from the Early Years through Primary, Post-Primary and beyond.

MIC staff and the conference committee—including Dean of Education, Prof. Emer Ring; Faculty of Education Department Heads, Dr Lisha O’Sullivan and Dr Maurice Harmon, and MIC Education Lecturer, Dr Sylvaine Ní Aogáin—are working with colleagues nationally and internationally to deliver the one-day event, capturing the transformative potential of play for education across the lifespan from the perspectives of policy, research and practice.

In addition to a broad range of presentations and 24 parallel sessions, confirmed keynote addresses will be by Prof. Paul Ramchandani, LEGO Professor of Play in Education, Development and Learning and Director of the PEDAL Research Centre at Cambridge University and Dr Jacqueline Fallon, with Donna Carolan (Dublin City University) on behalf of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA). Dr Jane Hession and Ronan Healy, founders of the service design studio ‘How Might We’ will present on their project to promote play across the lifespan, ‘Seeking Play’; their podcasts explore the benefits of childhood games to serious play for innovation.

Dr Lisha O’Sullivan, Chair of the Conference Committee and Head of Department of Reflective Pedagogy and Early Childhood Studies explained that: “Play is uniquely positioned to foster the physical, emotional, social, moral, cognitive, creative and spiritual aspects of learning in a manner which cultivates learner interest and active engagement.  Moreover, playful pedagogical approaches have particular leverage in terms of equalising outcomes and in ensuring that all learners are enabled to reach their potential.”

Prof Emer Ring, Dean of Education acknowledged the extraordinary contribution of the conference sponsors who have generously supported to the conference and include: the Area Based Childhood Programme; ABC Start Right Limerick; AsIAm; the Centre for Early Childhood Research at Mary Immaculate College (CERAMIC); Children in Hospital Ireland; Early Childhood Ireland; Gaeloideachas; the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO); Jaggo; Leadership for Inclusion in the Early Years (LINC); National Childhood Network, and the National Parents Council.  

She observed that “during this period of seismic change across early years, primary and post-primary curricula, it remains critical that the growing evidence-base highlighting the contribution of play to holistic and integrated learning is firmly positioned at the centre of this change. Hence our commitment at MIC to organising a conference focused on revolutionising education through play”. 

Three female people excitedly reading an illuminated book under cover of a red tent. A sign that reads "# play" sits in front of them.
Revolutionising Education Through Play Conference
The third Play Conference event will take at MIC Limerick on 2 March 2024.

The parallel sessions will provide an opportunity for participants to engage with research relevant to early years, primary and post-primary contexts. The foci range includes STEM; inclusion; language and communication; playful pedagogies; playful participatory research approaches; digital play; lifelong play, and play’s therapeutic dimensions. Mirroring MIC’s long-standing commitment to the Irish language, during the parallel sessions, play and play-based pedagogies to support children’s engagement in the teaching and learning of Irish in a fun, motivating and interactive manner, appropriate to their strengths, abilities, needs and interests will be considered and explored.

Since MIC’s last Play conference in 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted on the health and wellbeing of children, adolescents and adults across the globe. While the pandemic significantly altered our opportunities for play and recreation, particularly in their social forms, it accentuated the power of play, as an emotionally satisfying and meaning-making experience, for positive mental health and emotional wellbeing. The role of play in supporting mental health and wellbeing will be dominant across the conference keynote addresses and the parallel sessions.  

You can register for the 2024 Play Conference here. The conference will commence at 9.30am and conclude with lunch at 2pm on Saturday 2 March. From previous years’ demand, it is advisable to book early and avoid disappointment as places will be limited based on the capacity of the venue. A fee of €25 is payable on registration and includes refreshments and lunch.

Parking is also available on the MIC Limerick campus and arriving early should secure a parking space. A conference registration desk will be open from 8.30am and refreshments will be available on arrival.

Further details are available on the Revolutionising Education Through Play Conference 2024 website.