Kevin Johnson, a friend of mine,
a parent and ex-playworker in the UK’s West Midlands, asked a deceptively SIMPLE question which turned out to be more COMPLICATED than at first sight. A lot of playwork is like that. It appears CHAOTIC, you wish there was more ORDER and you’ll fail if you can’t get your thinking gear around the nature of COMPLEXITY, so have a read of this stuff, that might:
- do your head in.
“Let’s say you witnessed a kid hitting another kid or something to that effect deliberately. Would you make the kid apologise?”
Depends, depends, context, etcetera. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a simple way to decide what to do? Well, there isn’t. But there is a complicated, if not actually complex, ‘sense-making’ model that can help.
Complex is not just a posh way of saying complicated – you need to grasp that firmly. Have a read-up…
These items seem reasonably helpful and not too misleading…
Anyway, that model. It’s the Cynefin framework from David Snowden, who, like the mountain, is Welsh. It’s pronounced Kunevin, roughly. Here are two diagrams which give you a hint of what it’s about. It’s a business model, developed to support leaders and strategists making decisions in complexificatified situations, so it’s a bit of a stretch to apply it to playwork, yet that’s what I do. The keyword in all of this is SENSE-MAKING.
A lot of the time the sense we make is nonsense or worse. ‘Common sense’ hmmm, as my gran woodov said, it’s ‘common’ as in there’s a lot of it about and it’s not very good.
Wrap your visual acquisition system round these, and note that, to confuse the English, he changes the labels now and then. The one on the left is the latest labelling, the content, like the song, remains mainly the same…
These links might help you think it through…
Oh, and please, don’t complain about the military/battle/war/death/killing/not nice aspects of these applications of his model. It’s a tool, like that hammer you just used to repair that dangerous platform on your playground. Hammers can kill or mend. “Tools don’t kill people, people kill people” to misquote that git, Charlton Heston. If the war stuff winds you up you’ll love this:
So, back to Kevin’s question, let’s try to make some sense of it. Is his situation… complex, complicated, chaotic or obvious?
Clue – it’s not obvious, sorry.
About the only thing in playwork that is obvious is locking the office when there’s nobody in it and turning off the lights when you go home.
Have fun, and if you get stuck, my easy-to-read cult classic, ‘Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management’ is still available secondhand. Go to abebooks.co.uk, not Amazon.
I’d be fascinated to hear from anyone if they find any of this stuff useful…