“FairCoop: Virus of Cooperation Infects a New economy”

In a world changing as rapidly as ours, where disruptive technologies are aggregating and creating an unprecedented multiplier effect, the way we can become as successful as possible is by also aggregating simultaneously, coming up with new and better ideas day by day, building our knowledge and experiences in our own FairCoop ecosystem.

“We do not destroy the system by attacking it with our wooden spears. We are creating a valid alternative, and have started developing it. FairCoop aims to provide new, free, collaborative economic, social and technological tools for everyone, and will try to make sure they are used in a cooperative way for the creation and expansion of the commons worldwide. An Earth cooperative to build the fair world of the future.

“We can all help to make this happen. You can learn about the different ways to get involved here.”

Why I love my possessions as a mirror and a gallery of me | Aeon Essays

“Were I to live without my stuff, I’d have the same intellect, the same memories, values and beliefs that I hold now; but, without objects anchoring me and providing pleasure, I fear I’d fly off the face of the Earth. I know I’d be a miserable version of that self, endlessly muttering: ‘I used to have one of those.’ As Belk reminds us, people entering the military, religious orders, concentration camps, prisons and other institutions have their personal possessions removed immediately, to eliminate their uniqueness.

Shorn of my possessions, I would still be me. But, I suspect, not for long.”

Go read it.


“You could say we can state the configuration space, since it’s simply a classical, 6N-dimensional phase space.”

This made me smile and then laugh.

“You could say we can state the configuration space, since it’s simply a classical, 6N-dimensional phase space.”

Well, duh.

I often say that. I was in the queue in my corner shop last night and I said it. Always gets a laugh.

“It is important to note how strange this is. In statistical mechanics we start with the famous liter volume of gas, and the molecules are bouncing back and forth, and it takes six numbers to specify the position and momentum of each particle. It’s essential to begin by describing the set of all possible configurations and momenta of the gas, giving you a 6N dimensional phase space. You then divide it up into little 6N dimensional boxes and do statistical mechanics. But you begin by being able to say what the configuration space is. Can we do that for the biosphere?

“I’m going to try two answers. Answer one is No. We don’t know what Darwinian pre adaptations are going to be, which supplies an arrow of time. The same thing is true in the economy; we can’t say ahead of time what technological innovations are going to happen. Nobody was thinking of the Web 300 years ago. The Romans were using things to lob heavy rocks, but they certainly didn’t have the idea of cruise missiles. So I don’t think we can do it for the biosphere either, or for the econosphere.

“You might say that it’s just a classical phase space—leaving quantum mechanics out—and I suppose you can push me. You could say we can state the configuration space, since it’s simply a classical, 6N-dimensional phase space. But we can’t say what the macroscopic variables are, like wings, paramecium detectors, big brains, ears, hearing and flight, and all of the things that have come to exist in the biosphere.

“All of this says to me that my tentative definition of an autonomous agent is a fruitful one, because it’s led to all of these questions. I think I’m opening new scientific doors. The question of how the universe got complex is buried in this question about Maxwell’s demon, for example, and how the biosphere got complex is buried in everything that I’ve said. We don’t have any answers to these questions; I’m not sure how to get answers. This leaves me appalled by my efforts, but the fact that I’m asking what I think are fruitful questions is why I’m happy with what I’m doing.”

This is top quality stand-up, if you are a fan of Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory.


Media coverage of play/child-related issues: David Spencer Ramsey’s ongoing (and therefore partial) list

David has kindly given me permission to share his list of media coverage of what I have labelled ‘play/child-related issues’.

The list is a partial one, as he explains below. He says:

“Interesting research fact: There have been more than 50 articles, news reports, and radio pieces in mainstream media (New York Times, Slate.com, Washington Post, NPR, KQED, ABC News, etc.) in the United States on children’s play since the beginning of 2014.”

“So right now I’ve collected data on the 50+ media references since start of 2014. I’m in the process of going back year-by-year over the past 5 years to see if 2014 does indeed stand out as having a significantly higher number of ‘mainstream media’ (broadcast, print, web) discussions of play. I can easily provide you the 50+ references for 2014 with date, publication, url, title, etc., it’s all in a Microsoft Word doc.”

“I am … interested in looking at things from a different perspective, ie., is there a potentially larger social-cultural shift occurring in America that is either allowing or actively encouraging this sort of mainstream media coverage to happen? In other words, why now? Why these particular stories? What does this say, if anything, about American society in 2014?”


My own cynical view is that this media kerfuffle does not, of itself, signal a change in US (or UK) society. I wish it did. Nevertheless, if nothing else the covering is cheering, and may inspire. Feel free to use the list anyway you wish.

Please contact David directly if you have any questions or requests. For my part I will update this item whenever I can (not guaranteeing!).



DAVID’S LIST ( as of MONDAY, AUGUST 11, 2014)


The Overprotected Kid

The Atlantic, March 19, 2014


Why Free Play is the Best Summer School

The Atlantic, June 20, 2014


Recess Without Rules

The Atlantic, January 28, 2014


Inside a European Adventure Playground

The Atlantic, March 19, 2014


How Finland Keeps Kids Focused Through Free Play

The Atlantic, June 30, 2014


Kids These Days: Growing Up Too Fast or Never At All?

National Public Radio, March 20, 2014


Where the Wild Things Play

National Public Radio, August 4, 2014


Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Why Adults Need Recess Too

National Public Radio, August 6, 2014


Scientists Say Child’s Play Helps Build a Better Brain

National Public Radio, August 6, 2014


When Kids Start Playing to Win

National Public Radio, August 5, 2014


What Kids Can Learn From a Water Balloon Fight

National Public Radio, June 25, 2014


For Kids With Special Needs, More Places to Play

National Public Radio, August 27, 2013


Kids Need More Structured Play Time, Not Less

New York Times, May 1, 2014


All Children Should be Delinquents

New York Times, July 12, 2014


Mom Faces Felony Charge for Letting Girl Play in Park

ABC News, July 28, 2014


Play for Children: Form and Freedom

Huffington Post, July 11, 2014


If Children are Learning, Then Let Them Play

Huffington Post, November 1, 2013


Dad Charged With Endangerment After Son Skips Church to Go Play

Huffington Post, June 30, 2014


Stressed Out in America: Five Reason to Let Your Kids Play

Huffington Post, February 28, 2014


Banish the Playdate

Huffington Post, July 24, 2014


Best Type of Play? Let Kids do What They Want

NBC News, 9News Colorado, August 6, 2014


How Play Wires Kids’ Brains for Social and Academic Success

KQED California, August 7, 2014


Let ‘Em Out!  The Many Benefits of Outdoor Play in Kindergarten

KQED California, July 23, 2014


A Land Where Kids Roam Free

KQED California, July 18, 2014


Can Free Play Prevent Depression and Anxiety in Kids?

KQED California, June 29, 2014


Cities Want Young Families to Play and Stay

Wall Street Journal, August 5, 2014


Playing Children, Out of Sight and Mind

New York Daily News, August 4, 2014


Visiting Lecturer Says Play is Effective Learning Tool

Iowa City Press-Citizen, August 1, 2014


In This Era of Helicopter Parenting, Letting Your Child Play is a Crime

Charleston City Paper, July 23, 2014


Play: The Work of a Child

Green Bay Press Gazette, July 12, 2014


The Best Toy for a Kid on a Plane is Not an iPad

ABC News, July 23, 2014


Send the Kids Outside to Play: Study

Chicago Tribune, July 17, 2014


Even Playing Dress-Up Teaches Children How to Handle Emotions

Springfield News Leader, July 11, 2014


Letting Imagination Win

Washington Post, August 8, 2014


Ten Ways to Fix the Mess That is Kindergarten

Washington Post, August 7, 2014


Why So Many Kids Can’t Sit Still in School Today

Washington Post, July 8, 2014


Are We Overprotecting Our Kids?

Katie Couric Show, July 9, 2014


Should Parents Let Their Kids Take More Risks?

PBS NewsHour, May 9, 2014


Does Overprotecting Children Put Them at Risk?

CBS News, March 20, 2014


Let Kids Run Wild in the Woods

Slate.com, May 2014


What Playfulness Can Do For You

Boston Globe, July 20, 2014


How the American Playground was Born in Boston

Boston Globe, March 28, 2014


A Parklet Rises in Boston

Boston Globe, July 14, 2014


Help Kids’ Imaginations Soar

Miami Herald, July 13, 2014


For July, Let Kids be Kids

Columbia Daily Tribune, July 13, 2014


The Cognitive Benefits of Play: Effects on the Learning Brain

ParentingScience.com, 2014


7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing Into Leaders

Forbes.com, January 16, 2014


Too Much Too Soon: Why Children Should Spend More Time Playing and Start School Later

Forbes.com, January 30, 2014


Why Playful Learning is the Key to Prosperity

Forbes.com, April 10, 2014


Mom Arrested After Letting 7-Year-Old Son Walk to Park by Himself

KTLA News, July 31, 2014


Time and play and life and flow

This feels like a lovely continuation of our workshop and our ongoing discussions, Joel. So I’m reblogging it – still struggling with IT problems here, so my follow up to Eastbourne and LPW will be delayed.


It has been conference week in the playwork ‘world’ (as you who were also there are aware!) Conferences are often odd affairs: they never seem to last long enough, or you never get to participate in everything you like the look of, or they leave you tired and playing catch up for the rest of the week; yet, you will bring away something. This year I brought away fragments I’m now piecing together after sitting around at conference.

I mean that literally. The past few years, when I’ve attended, I’ve facilitated workshops, or I’ve built and manned adult play rooms, or I’ve run around in the background with set-ups and helping to keep it going, or I’ve snatched times here and there to listen to someone speak. My position has changed. This year there is time. This is a post about time.

Others who attended this week have already posted…

View original post 697 more words

WordPress is misbehaving, so I am struggling to post…


My last piece on self-esteem, is a bit wack, because the links aren’t active and such. I’m having to revise my workflow, and abandon browser based blogging and Android smartphone blogging in favour of my blog app MacJournal.








the last entry before this is half of a draft, so hang on, and I should post the proper full finished version shortly.










THE CRAFT OF PLAYWORK #3: MASTERY OF PLAYWORK or Masters In Playwork? (revised)

Occasionally I find myself writing something as a comment on another persons blog, and sometimes that piece gets a bit out of hand, like this is one, which arose from commenting on Lily’s blog about her last day of her playwork course. She was musing about doing the Masters in Playwork, and wisely, IMHO, decided against. You can find her blogging here:

http://loveplayhategolf.wordpress.com/ then search for: the-last-day-of-the-playwork-heroes

I started by saying: “Masters IN Playwork? Pah. But Mastery OF Playwork? You are on your way.” Then I found mice elf writing more… What do we mean by mastery? well, I’m not going there just now, so I’ll just say ‘being really really expert in something’ and, probably, ‘recognised as such by your peers’. The issue I’m looking at isn’t so much the ‘what question’ – ‘what is mastery? (like the dreary ‘what is play?’) but rather a ‘how question’: how do we get to be really good at playwork?

How do we achieve mastery?
In his book ‘Outliers’, which I confess I have not read, Malcolm Gladwell, who is both annoyingly glib and rather good at selling us contrarian messages, talks about the 10,000 hours required to properly master something. Wikipedia says:
“A common theme that appears throughout Outliers is the “10,000-Hour Rule”, based on a study by Anders Ericsson. Gladwell claims that greatness requires enormous time, using the source of The Beatles’ musical talents and Gates’ computer savvy as examples. The Beatles performed live in Hamburg, Germany over 1,200 times from 1960 to 1964, amassing more than 10,000 hours of playing time, therefore meeting the 10,000-Hour Rule. Gladwell asserts that all of the time The Beatles spent performing shaped their talent, and quotes Beatles’ biographer Philip Norman as saying, “So by the time they returned to England from Hamburg, Germany, ‘they sounded like no one else. It was the making of them.'”Gates met the 10,000-Hour Rule when he gained access to a high school computer in 1968 at the age of 13, and spent 10,000 hours programming on it.

By the way, I suspect that kids might be able to leapfrog this, but only in special circumstances, like the supportive environment of Summerhill school. Pushy parents think they can help their kids excel, but they get it completely wrong by hijacking kid’s childhood to meet their own unmet needs. Kids need parents to support them doing the KID’s thing, not the mom’s thing. But I digress…


And – wouldn’t be doing my job – if I didn’t quote this commentator who, like me, has a problem with Gladwell’s ‘success equals money’ bias: http://www.pluginid.com/malcolm-gladwell-outliers/

But let’s stay with the idea that mastery – becoming expert in something – is about lots of practice. Which has an implication implicit within it: that themethods of education which don’t involve a lot of practice, such as university courses or classroom-taught NVQs for example, won’t produce mastery or expertise.
It is a truism for oldskool playwork types, like me, that the best method for producing brilliant playworkers would be a ‘teaching playground’. The holy grail is an adventure playground – like a teaching hospital, where students learn on the job, getting those many many hours of practice in ‘the real world’ but with integral mentoring, coaching, supervision and education.
Steve Boller, a trainer of salespeople, talks about the implications of the ten-thousand hour rule for his work:
“This rule states that people don’t become “masters” at complex things (programming, music, painting, free throws) until they have accrued 10,000-hours of practice. And…he does a great job of illustrating that people who are commonly regarded as “masters” are really just people who hit the 10,000 hour mark very early in their lifetimes. (Examples: Mozart and the Beatles in music; Bill Gates and Steve Wozniak in programming). The research he cites to prove his point is compelling. It does support this 10,000 hour threshold and crosses all types of areas from computer programming through to hockey. Who cares, you ask?”



Boller says he does, and so should you. He goes on to say:


“No one gets good at anything without practice – and lots of it. The more we practice, the better we get. We need to think through learning design very carefully if we really want learners to get better at what we’re trying to teach them. Companies don’t have 5 years to train the new sales guy, so we have to come up with a design that allows as much practice as possible in as short a period of time as possible. When our designs are all “tell,” and no “do,” then we are setting learners up to be absolutely no better at doing something AFTER training than they were before training – even if we provided lots of great information or “reference” material. And when we pretend we can make people good at selling, managing, troubleshooting, etc. by creating and delivering a 60-minute e-course or 1/2-day classroom session for them to take, then we’re just plain silly.”

Now dear reader, I’m going to go even further and say this:
If we teach something at people, then not only do we run the risk of it making no difference to their performance*, but we could actually be making things worse.

*performance meaning their behaviour, their ‘what they actually do’, as opposed to our ‘what we say they can do’ because certificated them, or their ‘yes we know all about play cues because we did them on our level 3′.

Which is against the ethical code of the carer – ‘do no harm’, do not make it worse. Yes folks, training (education, teaching, wotever) could be making things worse. Now, hold on, hold on.

Calm down, calm down.

The ‘we’ isn’t so much you or me, the person stood next to the flipchart, doing their best, nor is your own lovely tutor, who was brilliant – rather it is the thing we call ‘the education system’, meaning the whole politicised, mucked-about, target-ridden, over-inspected over-burdened machine. The whole wobbly edifice of training, qualifications, regulators, standards, assessors – all that. The pedagogical structures in which we work, if you want to be posh.

(Please folks, don’t just see this as an attack on trainers doing their best. It isn’t!)

The trial of teaching begins
First witness for the prosecution: call Mrs Jean Piaget, now living in sheltered ‘accommodation’ in Geneva (yes, that was a epistemological Piaget joke – I’m here all week).
Piaget said (I paraphrase): ‘If you show the child the wonder of a butterfly you steal the possibility of their own discovery of a butterfly’.
That, in a nutshell, is why I am increasingly concerned about the teaching of play cues and play types and the mantra of freely chosen being dinned into folk by well-meaning teachers, harried by Ofsted and frustrated by made-up and timid elfansafety, deranged targets and absurd budgets. As we know from playwork, and Zen, sometimes the right action is no action; maybe the right action now is to stop teaching this stuff at people. And its all good stuff, don’t get me wrong., but maybe we are treating them like geese fattened for foie gras – maybe we are force-feeding them in order to get the paté of qualification. What I’m saying is that, in the system that prevails, run by the powers that be, it is becoming more and more difficult to actually make a difference.

So bring on our  second witness for the prosecution: John Taylor Gatto, who realised this a while ago:

“Gatto worked as a writer and held several odd jobs before borrowing his roommate’s license to investigate teaching. [years later] He was named New York City Teacher of the Year, in 1989, 1990, and 1991, and New York State Teacher of the Year in 1991.”
Impressive – did he win again the next year? Er, no, actually what happened was […“] he wrote a letter announcing his retirement, titled ”I Quit, I Think“, to the op-ed pages of the Wall Street Journal. Here is an extract:
”[In 1991], during my thirtieth year as a school teacher in Community School District 3, after teaching in all five secondary schools in the district, crossing swords with one professional administration after another as they strove to rid themselves of me, after having my license suspended twice for insubordination and terminated covertly once while I was on medical leave of absence, after the City University of New York borrowed me for a five-year stint as a lecturer in the Education Department … I quit.“

He said that he no longer wished to

“hurt kids to make a living. ”

Wow. Go read those links. Now, as trainers, educators, helpers and supporters, coaches, mentors, teachers, managers, ‘people who help people do things better’, as I like to say, we should always be concerned about and focussed on, performance – which I’m going to define as: ‘what people actually do’.

Sorry to sound a bit lympic there with the ‘p’ word, but I’m sick of hearing the word performance with the ‘O’ word in front of it and ‘teem geebee’ makes me throw up a little in my mouth. I promise I won’t mention lympics again, and please, LOCOG, don’t set your ‘Brand Nazis’ on me – I said lympics and not your O word. Nyer nyer.

And just to note this – if you don’t see changes in behaviour – and specifically those positive changes in behaviour that we call ‘improvements‘, then I have to tell you – they didn’t learn anything. Because learning is about changes in behaviour. Not the same as ‘Oh, yeah we know about play types because we did them in year 2, or was it year 1? Anyway, we did them, deep play, mastery play, yep, done that.’
And, for reasons of space I’m going to skip any discussion of how people learn best. But hey, as playworkers you already know the answer – children learn a thing the best through play (with or without support. Depends, no time to get into that here). By doing the thing. That’s what Gladwell is on about. The point is, maybe TEACHING this stuff is beginning to make things worse.

Let’s get positive
But what about you? What do you do that you’re really good at? How did you learn to do it, and ask yourself this – how many hours did it take you to get really good at it?

Old joke : Man asking directions in the street, stops a musician carrying an instrument case: ‘Scuse me buddy, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?’ Musician says: “Practice, man, practice.”

I’ve said it before, playwork is a craft. Can’t call yourself a practitioner if you don’t practice. “Practice, man, practice.” and, of course, “Practice, woman, practice.” And for the Geordies: “Practice, man, woman, man, practice.”

So if you, dear readers, want to be both masters in playwork and masters of playwork, then simply spend X hours a week doing/thinking/being playwork. Gladwell equates his 10k hours to 20 hours a week for 50 weeks for 10 years. And I don’t mean 10 hours admin, 4 hours packing craft boxes, I mean all of those X hours doing/thinking/being/ playwork. You know what I mean.

Ten thousand hours. But, not a hundred thousand words, just ten thousand hours. That’s the route to mastery and expertise – ten thousand hours. Like, bummer, dude. But be not downhearted, grasshopper! For ‘the mastery of a thousand hours begins with a single hour’, as Lao Tsu might have said. Let’s be positive – you are already well on the way – I’ll leave it to you to work out how many hours you have already banked – you are on the way…

Go on then, what are you waiting for?

revised 9 days ago, uploaded Thursday, August 2, 2012