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Video: For Scott Bedley, students' playtime has an important role in learning

Sometimes people return to what they know they're destined to do. For Scott Bedley, it was teaching.

"Initially I ran from this profession because my family is a family of educators," said Bedley, whose father, Gene, was named a PTA Educator of the Year in 1985, and whose brother, Tim, earned Riverside Educator of the Year in 2013.

"I didn't want to go into education. I wanted to make my own path, but I kept being drawn into it and found it was where my talents fit best," Bedley said.

The first indicator came when he was studying speech communications at Southern California College and took a job running a summer day camp for elementary children.

"I loved it," Bedley recalled.

A short time later, as part of his college requirements, he did an internship teaching at a church with a youth group.

"I didn't want to like it because I wanted to do something different from what my dad did," Bedley said. "Looking back I realize how foolish I was."

Today, Bedley is a fifth-grade teacher at Plaza Vista School, a K-8 public school in Irvine.

"I really love seeing when the kids have the epiphany moments," said Bedley, who's been at Plaza Vista for 10 years, nearly half of his 21-year career as an educator.

He considers how he reaches his students "progressive."

"Rather than focusing on them getting high grades, I want them to actually demonstrate what they've learned and take it forward," Bedley said. "It's the same thing we all have to do for our careers. You have to take information and process it and use it for some means to an end."

Promoting independence is a main goal.

"They become life-long learners, rather than an enabled learner where the teacher is the expert and the kids have to wait to get information to progress," he said. "I tell my kids: 'You live in an amazing time to learn.'"

Academics are definitely important, he said, "but a well-balanced, healthy child is far more important than one who has been forced academically."

To that end, Bedley and his brother, Tim, recently launched Global School Play Day, a nonprofit that encourages children to take a school day to be kids.

"Play has a reputation of being a reward or frivolous, but all the studies say unstructured play is a vital part of a healthy child's development," Bedley said. "We can't always give kids four hours of homework. They need time to play. Otherwise we might end up with a huge generation who are trying to seek their childhood again as adults because they missed out on being kids."

In January, the Bedley brothers, along with four other teachers, spread the word of Global School Play Day through Twitter, Facebook and other social media.

On Feb. 4, the first annual event reaped more success than they imagined, with many more schools participating than expected.

"We were thinking if we got 5,000 kids that would be fantastic," Bedley said. "We ended up with 65,000 kids on all continents except Antarctica. We were blown away."

Alicia Doyle, Brand Publishing Writer

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