Excluded Containers: out of sight, out of mind: county lines-child trafficking

TL:DR –black children enslaved by drug dealers because they are outside all the bourgeois systems of survival.

Yeah, the thing you should take from this is ‘complexity’. Not, ooh it’s ‘complicated’, rather, this is ‘complex’— interconnected emergent, evolving… VUCA PICA whatever-acronymity. Yada.

Here’s how to do it…

1. Allow a trader culture to infest the guardian culture of school provision (Jane Jacobs – Systems of Survival)


2. Obsess on exam results (Long-term aim – gaming educational futures at Lloyds – I kid you not, google ‘charter schools and Wall St, the real story’ or whatever, dig deep)


3. allow schools to inappropriately and fraudently deploy commercial confidentiality

4. Allow schools to exclude pupils to improve results.

5. by redefining ‘our pupils’ and focussing only on your ‘bounded container’ (Wassex County Council is a container as is Sizewelldown Unitary, as is Vastco Academy MAAT) the problem goes away.

Now read this and come back…

All the answers to this problem are staring government, councils, agencies, whoever in the face (read my book ‘Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management’, LOL)

But instead, funders want to approve your diversity targets and your theory of change WITHIN YOUR CONTAINER.

“There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing
Is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you”


Excluded containers.

I miss the gifts they bring for me, the special leaves, the bouquet of dandelions crushed lovingly in a fist, the portrait they made of me last night before going to bed.

“I miss the gifts they bring for me, the special leaves, the bouquet of dandelions crushed lovingly in a fist, the portrait they made of me last night before going to bed.

“I miss trusting them and to have that trust justified.
“I miss spontaneous debates over our own rights and responsibilities and how to balance them with the rights and responsibilities of others.
“I miss liberating them for a few hours each day in a world that is forever telling them what to do.”

future geography student

Teacher Tom: Isn’t This Belittling to Children?

http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2021/01/isnt-this-belittling-to-children.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed:+TeacherTom+(Teacher+Tom)&m=1

Do you know what this is, children?

Yes sir, we do, so please stop annihilating our playframe with your bolx teachable moment!

Nearly half of the children of the greatest nation on earth live in poverty.

https://newrepublic.com/article/160701/operation-santa-christmas-horror-story-american-poverty

Dear Santa, I want one thing. (sic) I been a good girl and I want to ask you if you please get me a power wheelchair. My wheelchair is very old and it does not want to work. I am very sad. Please Santa, bring me a power wheelchair. I don’t want nothing else.

Dear Santa … My wish is money for my (sic) perents. $100 dollars would help us a lot. They are having a rough time with the bills.” 

Dear Santa, how are you and your reindeer? It must be cool riding a sled in the sky…. this year for Christmas I would really like a couch that is also a bed. The reason I would like a couch with a bed is because I have a[n] apartment that only has one room. My parents sleep in the living room on the couch and they always wake up with back pain. My dad works a lot, so his back pain stresses him out.” 

Even prior to the pandemic, the United States lagged other developed nations in child poverty levels. More than one out of every five American children lives in poverty, according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development data. As the pandemic continues to exacerbate the underlying crisis of American poverty, 45 percent of all children now live in households that have recently struggled with routine expenses, according to a report out this month from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP. Black and Latino households have been especially impacted by the economic starvation that the mishandling of this pandemic has wrought, and these populations were already disproportionately likely to grow up poor.

Fire all the teachers

 “…fire all the teachers and replace them with cooks and gardeners and artists and woodworkers and scientists, all pursuing their interests in the company of the neighborhood kids who would spend their days pursuing their own.”

Another superb blog from the man in the superhero suit:

http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2020/06/what-if-everyone-understood-play.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TeacherTom+%28Teacher+Tom%29

Humans are betweeners

Donny knows it’s the inbetween not the things.

The material of playwork is relationships, connections. Between humans and between humans and things. It’s not about things. It’s not about Lou Spartz, it’s about our relationship with them. It’s all just junk if you think it is. That’s what that bloke Gibson is on about: affordances are the possibilities that you can see, observe, grasp.

Who are you when you are alone? Less human. That’s not a judgement, it’s an observation. I nearly wrote ‘just an observation’ as if a judgement is a bigger thing then an observation, which it isn’t. We get bigger, wider, deeper, when we are connected. Which is not to say that alone is less. It’s different.

https://psyche.co/ideas/for-donald-winnicott-the-psyche-is-not-inside-us-but-between-us

Sheepplay

Sheep turn playground merry-go-round into their treadmill

https://nypost-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/nypost.com/video/sheep-turn-playground-merry-go-round-into-their-treadmill/amp/?amp_js_v=0.1&usqp=mq331AQCKAE%3D

These sheep are having a field day. A flock of sheep took over an empty playground in Preston, UK, and hopped on the carousel. Watch as the wooly animals run in place as the roundabout spins in this funny video.

© 2020 NYP Holdings, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Some Playwork Resources

Given how rapidly things get lost on the interweb, it might be helpful if I park these here.

playwork_primer
The Playwork Primer by Penny Wilson (Alliance for Childhood 2009)

The very best introduction to playwork, and what it isn’t.

makingsense-playwork in practice

A lost classic, a companion piece to Best Play, containing some gorgeous stories that really give you a feel for the playworkers mindset.

best-play

What play provision should do for children. If your ‘space’ doesn’t do these, it’s not playwork provision, even if it is lovely.

jackieKilvington onThePlayworkPrinciplesPowerpointPDF2.pdf

An excellent overview for beginners

The Playwork Principles

Here they are, and in the poster below. The key one in these endtimes for playwork is #4:

For playworkers, the play process takes precedence and playworkers act as advocates for play when engaging with adult-led agendas.

TPP

And finally, for now, some thoughts from Professor Play himself on what makes Playwork unique:

What Is Unique about Playwork? Fraser Brown

The Unique Elements of Playwork

  • A conceptualisation of the child that actively resists dominant and subordinating narratives and practices
  • A belief that while playing, the ‘being’ child is far more important than the ‘becoming’ child
  • An adherence to the principle that the vital outcomes of playing are derived by children in inverse proportion to the degree of adult involvement in the process
  • A non-judgemental acceptance of the children as they really are, running hand in hand with an attitude, when relating to the children, of ‘unconditional positive regard’
  • An approach to practice that involves a willingness to relinquish adult power, suspend any preconceptions, and work to the children’s agenda
  • The provision of environments that are characterised by flexibility, so that the children are able to create (and possibly destroy and recreate) their own play environments according to their own needs
  • A general acceptance that risky play can be beneficial, and that intervention is not necessary unless a safety or safeguarding issue arises
  • A continuous commitment to deep personal reflection that manages the internal relationship between their present and former child-self, and the effects of that relationship on their current practice

An homage for Lou Spartz, unsung hero of ‘stuff’

Lou Spartz, who passed away recently was an adventure playground pioneer, who introduced Simon  Nicholson to the idea of kids doing stuff with old stuff that was lying around. Simon , being an architecture student, coined a confusing and intellectually reified terminology , based on his good friend’s own moniker. This slight playful moment, has now, courtesy of an academic journal, become a rod (a stick, louspart1, in the jargon) with which to beat children who put garden canes in the fabric tray. Aieee! Back in the day, we just called it stuff. Stuff. Stuff lying around.

LostWorkshops1: why lying to children is a parental dutyand lying to consultancy clients is a crime

This workshop, drawing on the work of Lakoff and Johnson, Postman and Weingartner, Dunbar, Tsoukas, Miyami, Minkoff, Vespuigi, Cohen and Stewart, Maturana and Hegel explores the complex relationship between truth, solidarity, tribal bonding, decision-making, leadership and socialisation, and the limitations of consultation and evaluation.

In today’s complex world of true lies and false facts, where the internet is blah blah.

To book this workshop contact Plexity. For more information, please reread.

Scarfolk Books have asked me to point out that they are not sponsoring this workshop and apologise for the misleading flyers.

Local authorities dwelling sightless in Plato’s cave

ADSS get really grumpy…

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/sep/16/councils-unwittingly-helping-drug-gangs-recruit-children-inquiry-says

“Councils are unwittingly acting as “recruiting sergeants” for drug gangs by sending vulnerable children to care homes miles away from where they live, a parliamentary inquiry has found.

“Thousands of young people who are sent to children’s homes up to 100 miles (161km) from their homes are becoming magnets for paedophiles and gangs who use children to traffic drugs from inner-city areas to provincial towns, according to evidence sent to the all-party parliamentary group for runaway and missing children and adults.

“More than 70% of the 41 police forces that responded to the inquiry said placing children out of area increased their risk of exploitation, often resulting in them being coerced into going missing.”

ADSS spokesdroid grumpily hinted at ‘having words with’…

Rachel Dickinson, the president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, said: “The suggestion in this report that local authorities are acting as ‘recruiting sergeants’ is wholly inappropriate and we are in dialogue with the report authors directly.”

Social workers would be struck dumb if they couldn’t use ‘inappwopwiate’ and ‘dialogue’ going forward…

If the ADSS had any understanding of networks, predator- prey interactions and autopoiesis, and

If they had any youth workers, and

If they listened to their youth workers

They could easily have seen this coming…

If you contract out your service delivery, you contract out your sensory apparatus.

You might think that monitoring is your sensory apparatus, but it don’ work like dat. Blakemore’s infamous experiments on blinded kittens (I know, don’t tell me, tell him) demonstrate that the visual system remains unformed if it isn’t able to autopoietically and cybernetically interact with the locomotor system. You can’t separate learning from doing as I said in 1995 in my Manifesto for Learning.

Play does not “build children”. This is awful drivel. Here’s a better slogan for you: THROUGH PLAY WE BECOME HUMAN.

“The Children’s Play Policy Forum believes that play is a powerful builder of happy, healthy, capable children. The benefits of play extend to families, communities and society.”

Believing it doesn’t make it true. This fatuous statement from people who have set themselves up as experts in the field flies in the face of established science. Yes, I know you’ll tell me it’s not aimed at scientists, it’s aimed at parents… well you must have a very low opinion of them, in that case. Simple is not the same as dumbed-down.

Play does not build children. This statement is:
…Unscientific
…. Grossly misleading
… Smacks of the worst sort of deterministic instrumentalism.

Play doesn’t do things to kids. Kids do things through play. Play is not something under external control, it is a process, a medium, if you must.

Children are not built like Lego or outside toilets.

Children become.

They are living, complex, emergent organisms.

That’s why I coined the phrase:

THROUGH PLAY WE BECOME HUMAN.

There are a number of implications within this simple-seeming sentence.

People seem to struggle with it. I’ve seen it mis-recalled as “play makes us human” which takes us back to the original misrepresentation of building not becoming.

THROUGH PLAY:
Play is not an external thing acting on children from outside, it is an inner urge, a propensity, a medium if you must, a process. So THROUGH PLAY.

WE BECOME:
Children are not alone (except when they are isolated, which is damaging. Humans are social primate mammals. They don’t develop as they should if they are deprived of company). They become who they are through interactions with other humans and with other becoming-humans. What emerges is shaped by a complex web of interactions and consequences (aspects of this are described by some as ‘socialisation’ and hey presto, with that single polysyllable we are back to the idea of things being done to them. Wrong.) Organisms are autopoietic, (googlit) they are self-creating, they emerge from interactions. It’s not predictable, it’s not controllable; at best it’s vaguely nudgeable, sometimes, a bit. Thus WE BECOME.

HUMAN:
Implying that some do not become human. Stuart Brown has studied psychopaths and murderers. They have one thing in common: play deprivation in childhood.

THROUGH PLAY WE BECOME HUMAN.

A kid hits another kid…obvious, yes?

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:
  1. help
  2. do your head in.
Kevin asked:

“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…

https://www.google.com/search?q=complicated+v+complex&oq=complicated+v+complex&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.6172j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

These items seem reasonably helpful and not too misleading…

https://www.inc.com/theodore-kinni/smart-leaders-know-the-difference-between-complex-.html

http://learningforsustainability.net/post/complicated-complex/

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…

cynefin diagrams

These links might help you think it through…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynefin_framework

https://hbr.org/2007/11/a-leaders-framework-for-decision-making

https://medium.com/@jamieschwandt/cynefin-framework-a-quick-and-different-look-bd10ede26693

https://www.armyupress.army.mil/Journals/Military-Review/English-Edition-Archives/November-December-2018/Schwandt-Wei-Chi/source/post_page—————————/

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:

Leader's_Framework_for_Policing_Protest.gifBy Maxgeron – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=55158193

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…

 

 

 

“I think that’s what kids ultimately want: They just want someone to feel like someone cares about them. And that’s what we’re trying to do here.”

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2845813-inside-lebron-james-i-promise-academy-one-year-later?utm_source=pocket&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=pockethits
1f787c266cbab7c3cd88258c4bebc292_crop_exact
“The I Promise School is an example of what can happen when people are willing to communally take a handful of extra steps and a few shared sacrifices. Roberts has taught in Akron Public Schools for 32 years. “When I came here,” she says, “people would tell me: ‘It’s not going to work over there. When you go over there, you’ve got those bottom kids. There’s no way that you’re going to be able to maintain what you’ve done all these years and still keep it going.’

“Well, guess what? Yes, it does. These kids know how to respect. They know how to be loving. They know how to give love in return. So, don’t tell me that it’s not possible with what we poured into the school. Look at all of this.””

“”But from a high-level perspective, the whole point is that we’re never going to stop,” she continues. “When LeBron started this program, we had this conversation about if we start this, this never ends. … We need to build something that will live beyond all of us.”

And with that, we walk back out onto the sidewalk. The chalk has settled into the pavement. The drawings are all varied—one towering figure holding a basketball, a few animals. I lift my own foot, and there is a drawing of a small person holding hands with two larger people, all smiling. Surrounded by a circle of hearts.”

Very lovely writing, very lovely place

Who shall we blame for the way you turned out, hmm…?

“And we are products of years of programming by our parents, by our revisionist history public and private schooling, and by the media, so it stands to reason that some embarrassingly stupid shit is going to come out of our mouth on occasion.”

Really?

If that’s true, it means you are f*cked.

But it isn’t.

That isn’t how socialisation works.

It’s both worse and better and more complex than that.

Don’t get me wrong, I totally support what the writer is trying to achieve.

https://armyofjane.com/2019/07/13/on-being-problematic/

But the biggest single influence on how we turn out might be none of the above: it might be your peers.

Read some Judith Rich Harris.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/parents-peers-children/

Superb work, I have one caveat, My take is that she needs to broaden the term ‘peers’, to include anyone that influences them in their daily life. It’s not just other children, it’s other significant people, grandparents obviously, but also the nice man in the corner shop, the grumpy lady at the post office, the crabby bloke who sits at you for playing near his car.

But mainly, OTHER CHILDREN, not media, not school, other kids.

Now think through the implications of that…