Listening: kids are really really good at it, and managers are mainly awful at it…

The first word of Miles Davis’ autobiography is LISTEN. He described jazz as being about “freedom and space to hear things”

I often declare that I will write a book called “Everything I Learnt About Management I Learnt From Playworking.” A bit like a preschool version of Mark McCormack’s  “Things they don’t teach you at Springfield Elementary”. (But I digress,and I’m also in danger of revealing my punchline.)

🎶 You can’t improvise if you don’t listen.

🏭 You can’t manage if you don’t listen. 

🗽You can’t lead if you don’t listen. 

Here are somebody else’s wise words about listening: please listen…

“They are always listening. Not just to the words we say to them, but those we say in their presence to others. That is their real learning environment. When we managers take that seriously, that’s when our people begin to make us better managers, the kind who think about the words they say and the tones we use with the people in our lives. They make us work to become the managers we’ve always wanted to be, if only because that’s the sort of person we want them to be.

“Our staff don’t learn anything from obedience other than how to command and control, a dubious education at best. They learn everything else by listening (and watching, of course). Real learning requires processing, repetition, time, and experience to fully comprehend. It takes place on their schedule, not yours, which is why it can seem as if they are not listening. But they are: know it, and strive to be the manager you want them to be. That’s the real work of management.”

Read more here:

https://goo.gl/bNNIOq

…it’s probably not playwork…

Greetings, loyal readers, and passers-by. Today’s topic is playwork (again).
“I know it’s wrong of me, but when I read the newspaper headline, Out-Of-Control Kids Driving Wichita Teachers Away, Union Says, I felt a little like cheering. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m against anyone hitting, biting, or engaging in property damage, which are among the things this article alleges. I am fully supportive of teacher’s unions that fight for both educators and students. And I have nothing but respect for public school teachers, whose already difficult jobs have been made even more difficult over the past couple decades as anti-child policies like No Child Left Behind (Bush), Race to the Top (Obama), and Common Core (Gates), are turning our schools into high-pressure, drill-and-kill, test-taking coal mines. Yet still, when I read that headline I could only think, “Damn straight, the kids are fighting back.”

“I mean, public schools have never exactly been a bastions of freedom, and kids, like all humans, love freedom.”
What he is describing is recalcitrance. Kicking back against the System.
That’s why I called THAT presentation the Edge of Recalcitrance.
“It’s shocking, frankly, that we didn’t rebel more than we did: it’s a testament to the capacity of children to thrive under any circumstances. But now consider that the pressure has been slowly increased over the past couple decades: high-stakes standardized testing and the millions of hours of test prep; the narrowing of the curriculum to focus almost exclusively on math and literacy at the expense of life-savers like the arts, wood shop, physical education, home economics; the slashing of budgets leaving schools poorly maintained and and supplied; and a drive toward longer school days and school years. “
 
“I assure you that I, a generally well-mannered kid who was good at school, would have rebelled a long time ago.”
Playwork starts where teaching stops.
Teachers have to leave when they become recalcitrant. Resign or be sacked or obey the system, your call, pal.
Google John Taylor Gatto. New York teacher of the year. Three times. On the day of the award ceremony, to be his 3rd time as T of the Y, he walked. He walked, but not before he told them what he thought of what they were doing to the kids.
Like teachers, playworkers have choices.
Teaching is about educating children, supporting their learning, not doing the stuff that Tom describes being done to them in his blog.
Your job, as playworkers, is to work with the recalcitrance of the weasels, to hold a space in which they can be free to become, to do, to be. To doo be doo be do, if that’s what they wanna do.If you can’t do that, then what you are doing may be useful, or worthy, or positive…
andnotbut™…
It’s probably not playwork.