Politics: the scum on the waters of change

https://www.brainpickings.org/2019/02/20/thoreau-social-change/

Thoreau on the Long Cycles of Social Change and the Importance of Not Mistaking Politics for Progress

“One of Thoreau’s most countercultural yet incisive points is that true social reform has little to do with politics, for genuine cultural change operates on cycles far longer and more invisible than the perpetual churning of immediacies with which the political state and the political conscience are occupied. Rather than dueling with petty surface facts, as politics is apt to, the true revolutionary and reformer dwells in humanity’s largest truths, aiming to transfigure the deepest strata of reality.”

Message found in a bottle of snake oil, in the Sargasso sea…

A friend of mine said, in a lovely,erudite presentation to some very smart folk:

“a weakness of my current thinking is a lack of explicitly encompassing the group, the social.”

Totally agree, we all lack this.

Re-examine page 49 of ‘Navigating Complexity: the essential guide to complexity theory in business and management’, written by myself.

Then think about that botanical nostrum – Early Years textbooks teach that there are three kinds of play in young humans and many mammals: 

  • individual play
  • parallel play
  • social play

Know that this is botany – classifying plants by the shape of their leaves. We observe the spots of a leopard, but what is the mechanism that creates them?

What are the primitives, the atomic irreducible processes that underly the phenomena?

We do not have a language to describe phenomena in groups. I  suspect they are incommensurable, like weather prediction after Lorenz.

We do not have a language to describe phenomena in groups.

This has hamstrung playwork, education, professional football, orchestral performance, NASA budgetary oversight inquiries, Air Accident Investigation, Corporate Fraud Investigation, etcetera etcetera.

There are clues in the Miles Davis approach to group play.

There are clues in Taoism, and Zen.

But as Sapir, Whof and Wittgenstein, and probably Gibson (JJ not W) would tell you, language shapes thought and we do not have the language. 

Try explaining how to put oil into a car without using any car-related, or engine-related words. Go on, try it. Write it down, now go through it and strike out any car-related and engine-related words that crept in. We don’t have a big enough RAM, our short-term memory, to hold even one sentence of the resulting tedious arm-waving stuttering verbiage.

Why doesn’t the world move when I shake my head?

~~~~~~



M’learned friend also said:

“This has many implications, but that main one is that we should judge education by the value created for stakeholders (laudate Tom) – this is fittingly complex and circular. 

NO NO NO, NO!

Very pleased that you rate teecha Tom.

Not stakeholders, feck stakeholders. Leave that to the Tory Goovey Gradgrindians.

I  think you might mean participants? If so then I‘ll semi-agree.

How would you judge a Beth Chatto garden? Answer that and you’ll know how to judge education .

~~~

Read Seedstock by Frank Herbert… full text here… https://momentoftime.wordpress.com/2013/07/16/seed-stock-frank-herbert/

I  cannot link to that story without rereading it, and when I  reread it, I  cannot help but be moved to tears.

~~~

Koan for you: “how can we value things without judging them?” asked the abbot.

Answers on a postcard to my fastness by Ruabon mountain, please, or via ‘e-mail’.

~~~

Like him, i don’t care if you think it’s biscuit tin art, this is the best most human response to Covid

These pictures, by a man from Bradford who deliberately failed all his other classes in order to get into the art class, are sublime.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/may/10/david-hockney-on-joy-longing-and-spring-light-im-teaching-the-french-how-to-paint-normandy?utm_medium=10todayuk.20210511&utm_source=email&utm_content=article&utm_campaign=10todayuk

They need more training (lessons will be learned)

I used to think that. I used to think that training was good. Then I started to have doubts and then I found finite and Infinite Games by James Cause. “Education is what’s left over after training” I think he said. And “All training is about the past, education is about the future” and i realised that training want the answer.

American cops don’t kneel on black necks for nine minutes because they haven’t been properly trained. They do it because they have an attitude towards other human beings. Also, driving around dressed like SWAT-style Starwars stormtroopers might have a negative affect on community-minded bonhomie.

Somebody, some CEO, think it was Jack Welch, CEO of General Electrics, I think said “Hire for attitude; all the rest can be learned on the job.” Notice he said learned.

Learning on the job, very effective. But, unlike training, which these days is mostly Gradgrindian instruction anyway, you can’t control what they learn on the job. You can’t control what people learn, full stop.

Maybe they’ll learn to accept bribes, you know, free doughnuts and coffee, and maybe later, brown envelopes.

You need to police them.

See what i did there? Policing the police. Quis custodiet custodiens? Who watches the watchmen?

In this case the answer is quite simple, managers. Managers exist to manage their workforce. When they’re not asleep after free doughnuts.

Haven’t seen any managers in the dock alongside George Floyd’s state-sponsored murderer.

What I’m saying is, too many cops have the wrong attitude and you can’t change attitudes with fecking Powerpoint slides.

Maybe you need to manage what they learn.

Because lessons won’t be learnt. Mainly because that sentence parses out as “the results of a training event will permanently change behaviour in the targeted cohort”

What are these lessons? Who is learning them?

I memorised the 8 times table and the King’s of Queens of England. I learned my lessons. They taught me to hate history, a parade of robbing scumbags, or so it seemed to me at the time. Quite like that Lucy Worseley on the telly don’t dress-up, mind. Posh people on the BBC, it’s like the 1950s again. Is rickets back yet? Dolly blue?

Yes, lessons will be learned. They need more training.

Kill me now.

No not you officer, it’s just a figure of speech, please don’t.

Stockton’s Basic-Income Experiment Pays Off – The Atlantic

A new study of the city’s program that sent cash to struggling individuals finds dramatic changes.
— Read on www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/03/stocktons-basic-income-experiment-pays-off/618174/

Some interventions in complex systems are actually PWH SIMPLE.

(post Wendell Holmes)

Deepfakes, a handy guide to spotting boojums.

Best how-to I have read in ages.

A very important article.

TLDR: the 5 Ws

“Deepfakes are videos that glue one person’s face onto another’s body, making the former look like they’re saying or doing something that they never actually did—even if it’s something as harmless as Tom Cruise talking to the camera and hitting a golf ball. They’re hard to spot just from watching the video, but here’s the good news: you don’t actually have to watch the video to know you’ve encountered a deepfake.”

— Read on lifehacker.com/how-to-spot-a-deepfake-without-even-watching-the-video-1846397857

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.

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

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

blind men and elephants, naah… it’s worse 

blind men and elephants, naah… it’s worse
it’s more like people living at the bottom of their own private mineshaft,
gazing up at the flickers of light far above them,
like victorian families viewing daguerreotypes
projected by candle flame via an epidiascope.
Like this herbert…

​who obviously hasn’t read this ‘product’..​.

The Origins of Order – Stuart A. Kauffman – Oxford University …

https://global.oup.com › product › the-origins-of-order-9780195079517

​or maybe he has, but he certainly hasn’t read …
Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics (1992) ISBN 0-679-74816-4
​or 

The Nature of Economies (2000) New York: Random House, The Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-60340-9

…or maybe he has, and does not acknowledge it. Aeon should be ashamed to publish essays without references.

Another mineshaft dweller

 in his own little academic bubble, 

lord of his tiny intellectual domain. 

Another seeker of the one system, 

the one theory, 

the one ring, 

the theory of everything. 

There are a hundred theories of everything 

and they all hold fragments of the true cross, 

and they are all right in some ways

 and sooo wrong in others.

What is it useful to believe right now, grasshopper? 

Does that make you happy?

​Still, you gorra larf innit?​

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.

“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

Desert Island Playwork: what’s yours?

kevin-wolf-zSOyfjBo1tk-unsplash

Hello and welcome to Desert Island Playwork.

The idea is relatively simple. It’s like the long-running BBC radio programme.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnmr

Suppose that you have been stranded on an adventure playground, as sea levels rise and the globe warms, whatever. You can only take with you one playwork-related book (and one luxury item, which cannot be a person, so not Scarlet Johannsen or Bradley Pitt, and cannot be a communications device, so put down that iPhone 11.)

What will you choose?
Your task, dear visitor to this blog, is to reply in the comment box below, we’ll collate replies later, telling us which playwork-related book you have chosen, and why, and you can also mention the runners-up and why they didn’t quite make it.

Simples.

We said book, and we mean books, andnotbut™ you might be allowed a fillum if I, your host, is in a good mood or you make a compelling case. You can mention the film you would have picked if you were allowed to.

I ‘m the judge, and the judge’s decision is final (unless I’m bribed).

You will of course, because this is rather the point, be allowed to argue about, sorry Millenials, I mean discuss in a respectful way, anything related to your own and other folks’ choices.

Why? Because there are some superb books out there that you playworkers will find useful that are being forgotten.


kevin-wolf-zSOyfjBo1tk-unsplashEpisode 1 of Desert Island Playwork

So, without further ado, let’s welcome our first guest on Desert Island Playwork, with me, Arthur Battram. Welcome guest, please introduce yourself.

Hello, I’m Arthur Battram, I  was big in the 90s.

Thank you, Arthur,  and what book have you chosen?

Well it wasn’t an easy choice, but I ‘ve plumped (weird word, books aren’t cushions, but I  digress), I ‘ve plumped for “Making Sense: playwork in practice” a little known gem, still, thankfully available as a free download from:

http://freeplaynetwork.org.uk/pubs/makingsense.pdf

If that book didn’t exist, I  would’ve chosen the little red book by Bob Hughes ‘Notes for Adventure Playworkers’, which, oddly, has not (yet) been republished by Common Threads. I  didn’t choose this because, although the content is superb and the thinking limpid, it is from a long-vanished era. The role of the playworker described by Bob is a much wider and deeper, more strategic role than that allowed to lowly playworkers today by the like of Ofsted and academy schools.

Or I  would’ve chosen the superb, elegant, compassionate and concise ‘Primmer’ by Lady Penny Wilson of Mile End.  Why Primmer? Ask me. It is also available as a free download from:

http://theinternationale.com/papers/PlayworkPrimer_2010.pdf

Thank you, Arthur. Why did you plump (you’re right, it is a funny word, plump) for “Making Sense”?

Well, it’s based on the forgotten ‘Best Play’ principles, which tell you what good play provision should look like. And it’s an excellent exposition.

You’all need to stop making ‘The Playwork Principles’ your 10 Commandments and adopt Best Play instead, for the simple reason that the two documents are complementary and are doing different things. The Playwork Principles are about playworkers (duh) and Best Play is about play provision. I  can’t say ‘simples’ because if it was, people wouldn’t keep getting confused.

Making Sense is a gorgeous read. It’s full of delightful playwork stories. Yes, it relates these short, sparkly, simple and yet profound stories to the Best Play thingies (and can, and was, used as the basis of training that nobody could afford to buy) but let’s not get into that. 

Read Making Sense, you’ll love it. It’s got little short fun stories in it!

It will cheer you up. It might even inspire you or reinvigorate your CPD whatever that is, Cardio-Pulmonary Disease, maybe, or your reflectional practice, what-EV-er.

The links are above, download the freebies to your devices and read them on the way to and from work.

Thank you, Arthur Battram.


 

If you’d like to appear on Desert Island playwork, leave a message in the comments.

 

Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash