Want to be Rich? Learn to Play by Robert Kiyosaki

Want to be Rich? Learn to Play

Why games are the best way to increase financial IQ

In 1996, my educational board game, CASHFLOW, was submitted to a group of instructors at a prominent university for their feedback. Their verbal reply was, “We do not play games in school and we are not interested in teaching young people about money. They have more important subjects to learn.”

Interestingly, this is still the way many educators and parents across the world respond to the idea of children playing in order to learn. In an article recently published by Quartz on the importance of play in learning and an experiment with play labs in Bangladesh, you can find the following quotes:

  • “There’s a preconception that from the early years [children] are led into a world of textbooks, and there’s no room for them to play.”
  • “Parents were not receptive. ‘What’s the point of this’ and ‘What’s the use of play?’ were common refrains…”
  • “I’d rather do housework than waste my time with play…”

These are not unlike the comments I’ve heard through many decades of preaching the importance of play as the most important way to learn, better than books, lectures, and tests.

How we really learn

There is a growing mountain of evidence that we learn best by doing, such as playing games, rather than by listening and reading (lectures and books). As Gabe Zichermann says in his excellent TED Talk, Changing the Game in Education, “Humans are doing machines. We do. That’s our nature…and it turns out there’s a core biological reason why we do, and it’s an amazing little neurotransmitter called dopamine.”

Zichermann talks about how the modern education system is fundamentally opposed to our nature as humans. Asking us to sit down and pay attention does very little for our education, when in reality we learn more by trying, making mistakes, and achieving. Experiencing the chemical benefits of the pleasure we feel when dopamine is released through our achievements helps us remember and learn far more efficiently.

He then goes on to make the case for why gamification is the future of education—including an amazing example of a teacher using Monopoly at a school in California’s Inland Empire to teach kids about money, among other things. The result: a jump of 40 kids in the top rankings of the California Math Test, up from less than 10 at the start of the program.

It’s worth a watch.

The benefits of learning from play

The power of play is evident in the benefits derived from it. In Bangladesh, where play labs are slowly growing to become a part of the formation of young children, teachers and parents alike are changing their mindset about what it means to educate children.

  • Over the course of visits to five play labs in Bangladesh, play leaders engaged the children with clucks, coos, and laughter, while also letting them be. And during free play, the kids managed conflicts well. When one girl named Moni asked a young boy to move so she could swing across the room on a satin cloth, he refused. She asked again. He was busy stacking blocks. And so Moni decided to move her launch pad, a bamboo stool, in order to avoid him. No one intervened in this exchange; many observed it. This is a radically different approach in a country where many still believe that the best leaning happens when kids sit still and follow directions.

  • “I am not a teacher, I am a play lab leader,” said Tania, who works at the Begunbari play lab in the suburbs of Dhaka. “If I am a teacher I am saying ‘do this’ and telling them what to do. I don’t give them exercise books, I just let them play.”

Contained in the simple statement, “I am not a teacher, I am a play lab leader,” is great wisdom. The difference between telling kids what to do versus letting them learn from doing, including making mistakes, is the difference between creating sub-servient employees and innovative entrepreneurial thinkers.

Go where you’re wanted

In many cases, it’s the market place, not school, that is filling the void of this need for humans to learn by doing. The market place does it through games—method that much of the traditional education system ignores.

This provides an insight to an important rule about business: “Don’t go where you’re not wanted.” In other words, it is easier to make money and to effect change where you’re wanted.

This is the very reason why Kim and I developed our CASHFLOW board game. We believed so much in the power of play to learn, and the demand for that kind of learning, that we decided to make a product that would meet that demand. The rest, as they say, is history, and today, Rich Dad uses digital platforms to continue developing games, many of which are free.

The good news is that more and more schools have been using our games as teaching products in their classrooms. However, the best news is that the public likes our products. Our board games sell well to private individuals—as well as to community organizations, churches, and youth programs. These are people who want to improve financial education for themselves and their members and look to sources outside traditional schools to learn.

We knew we had come full circle when Thunderbird School of Global Management utilized “Rich Dad Poor Dad,” CASHFLOW Quadrant, and the CASHFLOW games in its curriculum for their entrepreneurship program. The very prestigious university is internationally recognized for its educational programs.

Start playing around more

We’ve become committed to the power of games to change people’s financial lives. We spent a lot of time and resources to make CASHFLOW into a digital online game that anyone can play for free.

But we didn’t stop there. At Rich Dad, we’re creating a host of educational apps and games that help you—and your kids—understand how money works and how it can work for you.

Want to grow your and your family’s financial IQ? Start playing more games today.

Original publish date: December 11, 2018

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