Greg Bamford Promotes Play in Education

Welcome to our Masters in Education series! Check back each week for another profile of an expert educator. 

Greg Bamford earned a Master of Education from Columbia University Teachers College. He is a former teacher who works with professionals ranging from public school teachers to Fortune 100 investment bankers to develop forward-thinking strategies for learning and marketing. What is almost more impressive is that he has fun doing it, and he expects his clients to have a good time, too. Bamford’s highly successful professional approach is based on what he calls “purposeful play:” the idea that generating and implementing successful strategies doesn’t just require intelligence or discipline, but open-ended imaginative and emotional engagement.

Purposeful Play

In his 2011 TEDx talk, Bamford told listeners that he believes a critical element of success in our adult endeavors is a sincere spirit of playfulness. He argues that unabashedly imaginative and emotional engagement is as important to solving problems as intelligence and rationality — and that children have a much easier time bringing these elements together than adults.

The Flipped Classroom

One of the central goals of Bamford’s work is to help educators to implement the flipped classroom, an innovative method for using technology to make the most of classroom time. The flipped classroom reverses the ordinary rhythm of education: Teachers record lecture videos for students to watch at home via the Internet, then spend class time working one-on-one or with small groups of students, who work through problem-sets at their own pace. This system allows students to more easily digest and review lectures, and gives teachers more time to engage individually with struggling students or run dynamic activities.


Flip-Lab is a project Bamford founded with fellow educator Ryan Burke to bring best-teaching practices, including the flipped classroom, to schools around the country. What separates Flip-Lab from other professional development workshops is the personalization of the experience and the spirit of play Bamford and Burke bring to their work. Rather than using dated pedagogy to transmit cutting-edge teaching practices, Bamford and Burke provide preparatory materials ahead of time so that clients can spend their time working actively to develop and implement new teaching practices. Using the same concept of purposeful play outlined above, Flip-Lab works with teachers on site to develop tailored tools for individual needs, then coaches teachers through the initial stages of implementation.

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