I’m dumping this pile of musings here as…

I’m dumping this pile of musings here, as an embarrassing way of telling myself to try to write up my notions about play, complexity, flocking, and all that stuff I’m known for.

This stuff was written, on Tim Gill’s Rething Sproghood Facebook page, in response to Hendricks quote.

what follows is just a copy and paste job from Tim’s FB wall (is it wall or page? )

I haven’t asked anyone’s permission to do this, and I don’t think I need to but if someone has an issue just get in touch. I always quote my sources, well I always try to to the limits of my ability or memory.

So, for the first time ever, written down, here are some of the things I’m known for in my presentations and workshops on play and playwork and complexity and the ‘edge of chaos’ and the wave and all that stuff, delivered as musings on the Hendricks quote.

(Note for Eddie – not Hendrix. I share your disappointment. Although Jimi allegedly briefly worked as a volunteer on an Indian Reservation’s summer camp, before being drafted, there is no evidence that he was a play theorist.)




‎”The most important loose part on a playground is the children.” Barbara Hendricks in Designing for Play. #playoutdoors
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You and 5 others like this.
Arthur Battram “What is the greatest influence on the (observed) behaviour of a starling? Is it food sources (or their lack), daylight or its opposite, predators, the physical environment (trees, cliffs, buildings): have a guess…”

Because I have never written up my workshops on ‘the implications of complexity and emergence on the study of children’ or some such, I’m forced to do something that appears incredibly crass and self-aggrandising – quoting myself as a reference. That’s what the above quote is.
43 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram “The answer is: other starlings” If anyone wants to do me the honour of quoting me, please use this reference:

Found in: Arthur Battram’s various presentations and workshops on the applications of complexity to children’s play and playwork, 1997-present, not available in print or PDF, contact the author for further information arthur.battram.plexity@gmail.com
37 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram So taking the Hendricks’ (? or her source?) quote: “The most important loose part on a playground is the children” and applying my thinking to it, leads me to this extended statement:

“The most important important influence on the play of children, is the play of other children”.
31 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram ”So that,

if we wish to extend/enhance/change/alter/improve/control/ shape the play of our children,

for whatever reason/s (crime reduction, fight obesity, learn to socialise, give me some peace and quiet)

we will need to
consider/provide for/influence/control/shape the play of other children,

because, to parquote John Donne, ‘no child is an island’.
25 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram What I would like to see, in the way that we talk about children and play, is more evidence that the talkers (including myself) have really taken on board the notion that homo sapiens is a social primate,

and therefore all this talk of the child’s needs, talk of the play value to a single child player of a piece of equipment, talk about the child in the singular, the solitary abstract child, or parents of 3 kids talking about their concerns for their 3 plus a few friends, or teachers of 30 talking about their class’s needs, all this talk misses the point, if it does not take into account all the other ‘local’ members of the social species that is us humans.
19 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram ”To understand the starling, and ‘provide for it, if that is your bag) you must study the flock“ to again quote my complexity workshops.
17 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram To understand the sea (and protect it, if you want to ), you must go to the sea, watch the sea, sail the sea, swim in the sea.
16 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram A little fish once asked its mummy (or primary carer if you prefer),

‘Mummy, what is the sea? I heard some crabs talking about it yesterday.’

‘What have I told you about talking to crabs, young fish? ‘

(Yes, there is a crabs joke implied here, behave yourself)

‘Well my shiny-scaled poppet, the sea is, well the sea is inside you, and all around you, and the sea gives us life, and we are the sea, and it’s sort of everywhere, and it’s…’

‘I don’t really understand, Mummy’

‘Neither do I my little fin, neither do I’
9 minutes ago · Like
Arthur Battram Not that anyone intelligent or concerned about children’s play, really thinks that asking children what sort of playground they want is a useful way for grown-ups to behave, but there is a lot of it about.

Maybe all those people employed to consult children about their play needs

(Dear reader, I don’t anticipate that Tim thinks this is a dig at him),

during the recent boom times for play, who are now at a loose end, could be usefully redeployed as follows:

researching flocking by interrogating starlings about flocking,


conducting fish-based consultations to discover the sea-related needs of the poulation of the North Sea?
about a minute ago · Like
Arthur Battram I’m Arthur Battram, thank you and good night and I hope your night was less sleepless than mine. Was it something I ate?
a few seconds ago · Like


Thank you for reading if you got his far. Sorry it is such a mess (FB quoting pastings). I’m embarrassed. Please encourage me to write this up properly someone.

If you want to quote, you can. Dont reference my presentations, they are out of date, reference this blog entry, include the permalink so people can come here to read it.

If/when I write a proper paper, I’ll add a link here, from the future, to that future (for you, past for my future self, do keep up tempunauts) and as yet unwritten paper. Time travel. Confusing chap, Johnny Time.


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