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The importance of play; the club lounge; upcoming events++ #4

++talk to children about online safety

Hi, this is the GenWise team– we bring out this newsletter to help parents and educators to complement the work of formal schools and associated systems. We can help our children thrive in these complex times only by exchanging ideas and insights and collaborating on this.

This week’s main post talks about why playtime, and especially unstructured play is important. Play may be furthest from our minds in these troubled times. Yet, keeping our children healthy when they can’t go out and play with friends, requires us to find other ways of keeping playtime going.

You are invited to be an early member and beta-tester of the GenWise Club (ages 13-90), a community of interested students, parents, and educators. Check out section 2 for how to join the club.

Join this conversation on learning by commenting on our posts, or joining our club community for more regular and closer interactions.


The Importance of Play

Last Week at the GenWise Club

Upcoming Events (Free & Paid; both external and GenWise events)

Parenting Tips- Talk to children about online safety

The Importance of Play

Play is the answer to the question, ‘How does anything new come about?’ – Jean Piaget

In Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’, Tom realizes at one point that it’s in the prospect of being play, that work becomes a real pleasure! This is something most of us have realized in our best working moments, though we often feel work is drudgery.

A New York Times article titled Taking Playtime Seriously, highlights the importance of play in learning. The article quotes Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, a professor of applied psychology at New York University, who says “Almost all the learning that goes on in the first years of life is in the context of exploration of the environment.”

The article points out that many parents do not realize this role of play and states that it can also be threatened, either by too little attention and responsiveness from distracted adults or, in another sense, by too much attention and teaching, of the not-so-playful kind. This is a danger parents need to realize and address.

Valentina Trivedi, GenWise mentor and our ‘play evangelist’ says in this 11-min podcast episode

Children are routinely told to ‘stop playing’ and finish their homework, their meal, or whatever it is the parents want them to do at that time. Play is considered to Work as pain is to joy. Work is glorified and put on a pedestal, play is looked down upon and squashed with the toe of a hobnailed boot. The adage ‘all work and no play’ lies forgotten by the wayside, and foreplay is fossilised under layers of stratified rock, as the caravan of busy work schedules in the name of progress, rolls on and the march of time continues.

The full transcript of her podcast is available in this blog post.

Valentina discussed this issue and what can be done about it, with Sowmya Jatesan (another GenWise mentor) in one of our ‘Adda’ sessions. This discussion can be viewed here.

Valentina is also conducting a 2 session course ‘Playtime’, for parents and families over the May 15 weekend. This course will guide adults to drop their ‘parent’ role and spend relaxed fun time with children, playing offline games (she created these games for her nieces during the 2020 lockdown).

Last Week at The GenWise Club

Last Saturday, we had the first hangout session in the GenWise Club “Lounge”. The club lounge is an audio channel where any club member can go to hang out and talk with whoever else happens to be there. (If you’ve heard of the Clubhouse app that is making the news recently, this is just like that, except better.)

So a bunch of students, instructors, and a few parents were in the lounge on Saturday morning for about 45 minutes, just having a general discussion about the Club and its activities. We asked the students for their suggestions on what new activities we should introduce in the club. There were a number of great suggestions by the students which we are hoping to implement.

Someone suggested that we should start a regular puzzle series for the students to try and solve. We have already implemented this as the #puzzles channel. The first puzzle was posted on Monday and saw a bunch of solutions, including a very elegant solution by Omkaar. (Before seeing Omkaar’s solution, you should try to solve the puzzle, preferably without using any algebra.)

The second puzzle posted on Thursday generated a flurry of answers and back-and-forth discussions, garnering more than 70 responses within 2 hours of being posted!

A number of students suggested doing regular quizzes based on topics that were being discussed in the club during that time. Some of these quizzes could also be family quizzes where students and parents form one team. 

One suggestion was just to have movie/YouTube video watching sessions to the club. Another suggestion was for starting a book/movie review club where the reviews would be by the students with guidance from the instructors and parents. This also sparked off a discussion about which educational YouTube channels 

We are planning on making the Club Lounge a regular Saturday morning feature. Of course, not all the discussions will be about what activities to do. We hope to bring in instructors and guests who will give short talks on interesting topics (less talk and more exploration based on student questions) followed of course by free-wheeling discussions led by the students. This is a club not a classroom.

The next Club Lounge session is at 11am on Saturday, 1 May. Check out the details of next 2 Club Lounge sessions in the ‘Upcoming Events’ section.

How do I become a member of The GenWise Club

In the beta phase, the Club is open to all. All it takes to join are these steps:

Get an account for you and/ or your child on Discord

Use this invite (valid till May 6, 2021) to join the GenWise server. If the link has expired or doesn’t work, please write to, requesting a new link.

Direct Message (DM) Vishnu with your full name and details once you slide in to The GenWise Club!

Upcoming Events

External Events

What are black holes? How do scientists study them? Join ‘Talk to a Scientist’ in their next episode where you will find out all about black holes with Dr. Abhijeet Borkar. Date: 1st May 2021, 5-6 pm IST. Register here. (Free)

CONTAGION Exhibition from Science Gallery, Bengaluru. CONTAGION explores the phenomenon of the transmission of emotions, behaviours, and diseases. CONTAGION is a 45-day exhibition season, from 30 April to 13 June. The first lecture is titled Control, Consensus, Chaos: The Global Response to the Pandemic by Dr. Sheila Jasanoff from the Harvard Kennedy School on Friday, 30 April 2021 at 06:30 PM IST. There are also several interactive workshops for 15-28 year olds beginning May 9 and ending June 6. For more details visit their website here. (Events are free)

An online course on Indian Astronomy and Mathematics by R. Gopu, exclusively for school students starting on 5th May 2021. This is organized by the Varahamihira Science Forum. For more details, visit this link. Click here to register.

Events @GenWise

“Explorations with Radha” – Sat, May 1, 11am @The GenWise Club Lounge Many of you will also know Radha through her participation in several GenWise Addas, the Auroville experiential learning programs, and the design and delivery of courses in the Environmental and Life Sciences at GenWise. If you enjoy residential programs/ field trips/ nature, you will want to drop in on this informal conversation around the emerging importance of Natural History (what is it, really?) for the 21st century student. All students and parents welcome!

“How do Scientists figure out things, with Sukanya”Sat, May 8, 11 AM @The GenWise Club Lounge

Sukanya, a physicist, will be in an informal conversation with GenWise co-founder, Vishnu on this topic. The focus will be on how scientists discover things and create new knowledge. For example, most of us know Newton’s first law, but how did Galileo or Newton figure this out?

Sukanya writes (in English and Bengali) to share her passion for science with her readers. She was awarded the prestigious Rabindra Smriti Puraskar in 2010 for science writing in Bengali. All students and parents welcome!

At least 3 GenWise courses coming up soon (out of 30+ courses listed here):

Parenting Tips: Talk to children about online safety

Some months ago, the Maharashtra Police arrested a man who had compromising photographs of about 700 children.

He posed as a teenage girl on Instagram and befriended other girls. He discussed body image issues with them and sent morphed photos of self offering advice towards body enhancement. He also blackmailed them using their morphed photos and forced them to pull in more friends into the net.

This is a real and deadly side effect of unrestricted use of social media. These things are happening around us.

I hope you all have regular discussions with your children about this.

Dr. Bhooshan Shukla, GenWise Mentor MD, DNB, MRCPsych (London), Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Twitter – @docbhooshan Dr. Bhooshan conducts various courses about parenting for GenWise. Register below to learn more about how to motivate your teenager.


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