You had one job, play advocates, and it was left to the Yanks to do it.

Hello playwork.

 

Hello Fraser Brown, Bob Hughes, Gordon Sturrock, Mike Wragg, Wendy Russell, Pete King, Adrian Voce, the whole bloody lot of you clever bastards. You failed to do this, and it’s been left to a bunch of bloody Yanks, who don’t even have bloody playwork, ffs, to do it. Doubtless bloody Tim Gill, even as we speak, is busy blogging that it is his success, because he is a mate of David Ball. Whatever. And now, precisely as the last few APGs are being smashed in Bristol, and local councils continue relentlessly to make some of the most monumentally short-termist, cheese-paring and pointless and counter-productive cuts ever conceived of by a bunch of bigoted little Englander dickheads who basically would legislate for children to be put into landfill if they could, and in Solihull, they’re probably planning that right now, while all that’s happening, 60 people are going to spend two days sat on their arses in Ely, wailing about playwork.

Playwork deserves to die with advocates like these.

https://www.treehugger.com/family/adventure-playgrounds-are-safer-kids-fixed-play-structures.html

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Childrensaving and Ship Building (NB: it’s Shipbuilding, all one word)

Currently, Wallsend is having its children saved. Hurrah.

Childrensaving is happening, thanks to a government-funded programme, delivered by a national children’s charity, saviours of  children, heroes in their own lunchtime {a lunch of rocket, kale and organic polenta, to be precise}.

This is part of the ongoing long-term —some things are long-term, aren’t they— the ongoing long-term deracination and outsourcing of the role of local government in the public realm.

Successive governments, red and blue and yellow, have decided that local government can’t be trusted. Central government prefers to impose 3rd sector agencies from London on communities, because local government is infested with a ‘can’t-do’ mentality and is bogged down in local politics and can’t make the thrusting managerialist interventions, on absurdly short timescales [ie. before the next election], that politicians command but can’t control.

If you wanted to talk about shipbuilding to people in Wallsend, which is the topic today, BTW, you might start by learning that shipbuilding is all one word, it’s not Ship Building. A ship building would be the hut in which you keep your little rowing boat, by a river bank. Or is it riverbank? A river bank would be a bank in which you keep rivers, or something.

So anyway, here is The Theory Which Will Transform Wallsend, starting from the ‘Past Context’ of “Ship Buildings (Lost)”…Wallsend Children_s Community Initial Overarching Theory of Change

And here is another Theory of Change…

 

You’re all busy people who don’t have time to listen to some bloody lefty pop song from 1982, so here’s the lyrics for all you busy managers who need it one side of A4 by 9 o’clock tomorrow morning…

Is it worth it?
A new winter coat and shoes for the wife
And a bicycle on the boy’s birthday
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
By the women and children
Soon we’ll be shipbuilding
Well, I ask you
The boy said, Dad, they’re going to take me to Task
But I’ll be back by Christmas?
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
Somebody said that someone got filled in
For saying that people get killed in
The result of  The shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s just a rumour that was spread around town
A telegram or a picture postcard
Within weeks, they’ll be re-opening the shipyards
And notifying the next of kin, once again
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
It’s all we’re skilled in
We will be shipbuilding
With all the will in the world
Diving for dear life
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls
When we could be diving for pearls

 

some sage advice on choosing your ISP and an astute commentary on business stategy

https://community.plus.net/t5/Plusnet-Feedback/Why-I-have-left-Plusnet/m-p/1389353

Really worth reading the whole thing, here’s why:

“When I joined Plusnet they /snip\ enjoyed steady growth through word of mouth and the referrals system.  When they were bought by BT the whole approach changed.

It is now apparent that the over-riding aim of Plusnet’s management is to gain customers which is why /snip\ The /snip\ result has been a lot of users who bitterly regret coming to Plusnet have suffered the consequences of the poor support and leave again at the first opportunity. /snip\ The changed approach has also had other consequences:

  • It has changed the type of users /snip\ who want the cheapest deal and still expect first class support; they will show no loyalty at all and will leave again as soon as they are out of contract and a better offer is available./snip\
  • Developers are continually engaged preparing for new campaigns and small tweaks that could make improvements for existing users never rise to the top of the development stack.

What Plusnet don’t seem to realise is that just gaining new users isn’t the only way to increase the total user base – keeping your existing users happy is just as important. Plusnet’s churn rate is probably as high if not higher than any other ISP’s.

/snip\ Instead we’ve seen support so overwhelmed /snip\ They tried to blame it on “their suppliers” but it was strange that I saw no other ISP indicated they were having such problems. That was the final straw!

 

Go read it. And switch!

 

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.

Thinking in Systems

 Donella H. Meadows
“So, what is a system? A system is a set of things—people, cells, molecules, or whatever—interconnected in such a way that they produce their own pattern of behavior over time. 

A system is an interconnected set of elements that is coherently organized in a way that achieves something. We can’t impose our will on a system. We can listen to what the system tells us, and discover how its properties and our values can work together to bring forth something much better than could ever be produced by our will alone.

There are no separate systems. The world is a continuum. Where to draw a boundary around a system depends on the purpose of the discussion.

We know a tremendous amount about how the world works, but not nearly enough. Our knowledge is amazing; our ignorance even more so… 

You can drive a system crazy by muddying its information streams. Purposes are deduced from behavior, not from rhetoric or stated goals.

Missing information flows is one of the most common causes of system malfunction. Adding or restoring information can be a powerful intervention, usually much easier and cheaper than rebuilding physical infrastructure. 

Remember, always, that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.

Thou shalt not distort, delay, or withhold information.”

― Donella H. Meadows, 

Thinking in Systems: A Primer
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donella_Meadows
Donella H. Meadows (March 13, 1941 – February 20, 2001) was a pioneering American environmental scientist, teacher, and writer. She is best known as lead author of the influential book “The Limits to Growth” and “Thinking in Systems: a Primer”

( from the excellent: https://creativesystemsthinking.wordpress.com )

Old management whine in VUCA bottles…

http://www.trainingzone.co.uk/lead/strategy/vuca-leadership-why-you-need-it-and-how-to-develop-it

Paradigm shift/leadingedge/bluesky/fad cycle/ same old same old.Yada

Yada

Yada yada.

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

Buy our stuff.

Yada Yada

And…

I’m sure they are lovely people doing lovely things, andnotbut™, I’m afraid I have to say: old management whine in VUCA bottles…