…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.

provocation #3 ‘Why oh why did this happen, can you see what it is yet?’ (file under: contentious and and half-baked) | LinkedIn

An occasional series of provocations for management thinkers.

May contain elements of offense.

(File under: contentious and and half-baked)

provocation #3

 

 

WHY OH WHY DID THIS HAPPEN, CAN YOU SEE WHAT IT IS YET?

NB: My target here is managerialism, not committed, ethical, hard-working public sector employees and elected representatives.

Rearrange these into the correct order:

1. Give police targets determined by politicians, and managers subservient to them

2. Import managerialism into the public sector

3. Destroy the multi use approach to city and town street life – thanks planners, abandoning the streets after 8pm to ne’er-do-wells, clubbers, drunks, and the poor and desperate.

4. Think it clever to save social services budgets a few quid by buying cheap places in care homes for vulnerable kids in depressed towns like Rochdale.

5. Close your children’s homes and allow the market to create cheap children’s homes in low cost areas.

6. Send vulnerable kids half-way across the country

7. Don’t see children and youth as valid members of society with needs, rights, and AGENCY, so don’t cater for their leisure and affiliation needs

8. Rack up business rates so that only poverty-level wages for fast-food work are viable in town centres.

9. Prioritise car theft, based on public complaint, over missing children who don’t complain because they don’t matter (“scrubbers” anonymous policeman, BBC Radio 4 Friday, September 12, 2014 13:37).

 

That was a trick question: there isn’t an order only a pattern.

Then wonder why the Rochdale Child Abuse Scandal.

Discuss. Use both sides of the argument and the brain.

 

_____________Footnote

if you find this offensive is it less or more offensive than the Rochdale Child Abuse Scandal?

via provocation #3 ‘Why oh why did this happen, can you see what it is yet?’ (file under: contentious and and half-baked) | LinkedIn.

KIND THINKER OUT IN THE WORLD: an elegy for Perry Else

KIND THINKER OUT IN THE WORLD

 

Kind thinker, out in

the world, away 

from the white towers; 

down by the riv’r.

Forthright, flexible and firm — 

the three frees.

Living, in the realm

of the possible:

not ‘they should’, only

‘well, maybe we can…’ 

Else we forget, the

value of play

and the value of

his playful life.

Arthur Battram

10:26 AM, Thursday, June 12, 2014, revised 2:02 PM  Friday, September 5, 2014 , and again so the scansion is better Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 2:04 PM.

A fitting obituary is here:

http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/news/people/obituaries/perry-else-1959-2014/2013792.article

REGENERATING THE PUBLIC REALM: Blenders, babysitters and burglars! – connecting neighbours in unexpected ways – Playing Out

“For my street – and the others who have shared their experiences – new and rich connections have grown from sharing time and fun on the street during playing out sessions. And they have changed the way I feel about living here for the better.”

We know more about regenerating a rainforest or a prairie than we do about regenerating the public realm.

We really need to get out more.

And we really need to study more.

PlayingOut, is one neccesary, but—of course—of itself, insufficient condition for this regeneration of  the public realm to take place. Pun placed intentionally!

Read and follow their excellent bloggery.

via Blenders, babysitters and burglars! – connecting neighbours in unexpected ways – Playing Out.

Evidence you say? What is that? Away with you and your ‘evidence’! (NAMED AND SHAMED: GPs who miss cancer diagnoses)

Read this blog, please. If you value any of my bloggage, read this other bloke’s blog. We need to bring as much as we can of this level of surgical precision to management.

If psychology can be a science, (a claim I find dubious having obtained a degree in it from an excellent college ranked number 3 or 4 in the UK, Hindustani).

(Hindustani? How could this idiotphone think I meant that when I wrote incidentally? This is why the robots well not take over just yurt)

As I was saying, if psychology can be a science then so can management.

There was a brief kerfuffle in the business schools about why they didn’t see the crash coming and why they failed to teach ethics to MBAs. Six months later all forgotten. Gary Wossname would have put on a conference or earned a big fee for meaculpaing, or both. Business school profs make admen look shamefaced and moral.

I’m not advocating Taylor’s Scientific Management. We have some better science now. And proper true facts are harder to come by in management consultancy. But we could work a lot harder than we do to seek truth amid opinion and cant.

Please read the wise words of the junior doctor.

juniordoctorblog.com

If you saw the Mail on Sunday today you would have seen the above headline.

According to Wikiquotes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, 4-time US senator and academic, once said “You are entitled to your own opinions, but not to your own facts”. Rather than writing an extensive counter-diatribe of rhetoric on the ridiculousness of the article, the irresponsible attitude to health reporting and Jeremy Hunt in general, I have decided to try a new form of discussion. I call it ‘The Facts’.

Fact #1
Here are the National Institute for Clinical Excellence guidelines for referring patients to a specialist with the suspicion of cancer. http://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/CG27*

Fact #2
This is how common bowel cancer is: there are 47.2 new cases per 100,000 people per year (crude). This equals around 40,000 new cases nationally, which means nearly 1 case per UK GP per year.

This is how common breast cancer is: there are 155…

View original post 978 more words

“Work is about a daily search for meaning as well as daily bread…”

As some of you may know, I am a huge fan of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple.

(I still respect him, but I’m no longer a fan of Apple’s products. Not since MacOS 10.4 in 2005. Just so you know I’m not a blinkered fanboy.)

Now, here’s one reason why I rate Jobs, which you can file under: “Insanely Great!” his most famous catchphrase.

When the Mac was produced in 1984, he insisted, at significant extra cost, in having the names of all the engineers who designed it engraved INSIDE the case, where almost nobody would ever see those names. I was lucky enough to see them, because I once watched an engineer remove the casing. (Oh yes, circuit boards can be beautiful, why are most of them ugly?)

You can also file under: respect for the dignity of the work of other human beings.

Which leads me on to my next couple of stories.

Studs Terkel has been described as a historian and a sociologist but he prefers to call himself a “guerrilla journalist with a tape recorder.” He created controversy we’re told when Tony Blair resigned and he asked: “Why was he such a house-boy for Bush?” Studs Terkel died in his Chicago home on 31st October, 2008 at the age of ninety-six. He asked that his epitaph should be: “Curiosity did not kill this cat.”

He said:

“When you become part of something, in some way you count. It could be a march; it could be a rally, even a brief one. You’re part of something, and you suddenly realize you count. To count is very important.”

Working (1974), is his account of people’s working lives. Terkel wrote:

“Work is about

a daily search for meaning

as well as daily bread,

for recognition

as well as cash,

for astonishment

rather than torpor,

in short for a sort of life,

rather than a

Monday-to-Friday

sort of dying.”

This is an edited excerpt from the interview that opens the book:

(Mike LeFevre was thirty-seven in 1972). He works in a steel mill. On occasion, his wife Carol works as a waitress in a neighborhood restaurant; otherwise, she is at home, caring for their two small children, a girl and a boy...

“You don’t see where nothing goes. I got chewed out by my foreman once. He said, “Mike, you’re a good worker but you have a bad attitude.” My attitude is that I don’t get excited about my job. I do my work but I don’t say whoopee-doo.
The day I get excited about my job is the day I go to a head shrinker. How are you gonna get excited about pullin’ steel? How are you gonna get excited when you’re tired and want to sit down? It’s not just the work. Somebody built the pyramids. Somebody’s going to build something. Pyramids, Empire State Building-these things just don’t happen. There’s hard work behind it. I would like to see a building, say, the Empire State, I would like to see on one side of it a foot-wide strip from top to bottom with the name of every bricklayer, the name of every electrician, with all the names. So when a guy walked by, he could take his son and say, “See, that’s me over there on the forty-fifth floor. I put the steel beam in.” Picasso can point to a painting. What can I point to? A writer can point to a book. Everybody should have something to point to.”

~

taken from this PDF which I found on the net,

so you can too: StudyGuide-Working.pdf

A Study Guide Of WORKING

From the Book by Studs Terkel

Adapted by Stephen Schwartz and Nina Faso

Original Production Directed By Stephen Schwartz

FORT WAYNE CIVIC THEATRE

IN THE WINGS Arts-In-Education Program

PERFORMANCES FOR SCHOOLS

AND SOCIAL SERVICES

Saturday, May 8, 2009 @ 2:00 p.m.

Out of sight, out of mind, out of the brain of Mr Chown, for your reading pleasure

Out of sight, out of mind.

Excellent blog by the wise Mr Chown. Sample quotes:

20 years on I still see signs of children playing out, unnoticed by adults. Surveys and questionnaires provide only a partial picture of children’s independent mobility. We need more direct observation and engagement with children and families in their own neighbourhoods, not just in schools, if we are to create policies to support children playing out and to measure their success.”

‘We have given up haunting the places where children play, we no longer have eyes for their games, and not noticing them suppose they have vanished’. Children’s Games in Street and Playground – Iona and Peter Opie.”

Out of sight, out of mind.

Reflecting on reflective practice: “A thousand mountain ranges separate the one who reflects from the one who is truly present.”

“A thousand mountain ranges separate the one who reflects from the one who is truly present.”

Photo from: http://www.walkingforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2750.0

This is a blog about reflective practice, which like Western civilisation, I think would be a very good thing.

I’m quoting Gandhi, who was asked what he thought of Western civilisation, as he stepped off the boat at Southampton wrapped in a sheet, having been a lawyer in South Africa. He replied: “I think it would be a very good idea.”

I’m suggesting that a lot of what passes for reflective practice is nothing of the sort, and yet it so easily could be.

Playworkers make notes in diaries, they keep records. They take photos, to attempt to present their work to others.  Some keep journals, some turn their journals into whole books, like m’esteemed colleague Eduardo Nuttall. Some write whole books, based on the work of a lifetime, or at least a significant chunk of it,  stuffed with observation and reflection – I’m thinking of  luminaries like Perry Else and Saint Bob himself (no offence). Some blog, like moi, and Joel, and Lily and many others. Some don’t do any of that, but they do think, and ponder, and talk about stuff down the pub or over a grotty cup of bad teabag tea in a hut.

But those honourable exceptions aside, often what passes for ‘reflective practice’ is nothing more than a few scrappy notes in an ‘incident book’ or an ‘office diary’, grudgingly scribbled as you rush to go home. Why do we need to write stuff up, we mutter. What’s the point?

Easy for me to criticise, but what am I doing about it?

Good and fair question. I’m currently developing  what I hope will be a new and improved approach to playwork reflective practice. I have started by distinguishing three aspects of the thing I’m pointing at –  avoiding using the term ‘reflective’ or ‘practice’ to avoid association with existing approaches, recognising that this may result in the usage of clumsy neologism, for which I apologise.

These three aspects are:

documentation – the recording of numbers and names and other details, as required by Caesar. “Render unto Caesar that which is Ceasar’s” said a Jewish prophet, and in our context that means: keep the records that your employer requires, for the good reasons that they require it. Chief among those reasons is, most likely, the keeping of funders happy.

promotion – the gathering of photos, and stories, etcetera, for reasons often confused with the above, to wit: to be able – at AGM or conference, or on telly or radio, or in print, be it press, or exhibition – to tell people what you do and why you do it and why it is deserving of their support, financing or involvement, be that as volunteer, worker or committee member or officer.

journaling – the writing of a personal and private journal of your personal reflective practice.  By which I mean recording some of what you observed and thinking about it, and writing down some of your thoughts, and relating them to your work, presumably with the intention of improvement – the making something better. I’m referring to a thing my erstwhile chums in management consultancy call ‘change management’.

(I’m not interested in ‘change management’, I’m interested in ‘improvement management’, which is, admittedly, a subset of change management, but is much harder. Given that change is happening all the time, the real trick is to detect and amplify the beneficial things, while avoiding the bad things and hoping they’ll go away. I say this because if we focus on the bad things, everybody gets upset and the good things get neglected – better to focus on making the already good a little bit better, which is nice and not too challenging for any of us, is it not?)

Anyway, a personal and private journal. Can’t be done in the office dairy because you can’t be yourself in the glare of your office spotlight. What will they think if I write that? I can’t write that, so I don’t, and so I don’t think about it either, which means that I’m self-censoring.  Not a good start. How can I reflect on the unthought and unwritten? Reflection is personal – what do I think about what happened? Not what do the Playwork Principles tell us to think (our very own PCness), nor what my boss wants me to think or do, nor what my mates or colleagues think, or want me to think. And, if it is personal it must be private, initially at least. I can always edit juicy bits for public consumption as part of our promotion or as an extension documentation later.

Hope all that helps. I’ll be piloting this approach soon, and I’ll let you know how it goes, if you’re interested.

This particular peak

Onwards and upwards to the top of this particular peak, which is the consideration of these words:

“A thousand mountain ranges separate the one who reflects from the one who is truly present.”

We don’t know who said this, the only reference we have is ‘Zen saying’.

M’esteemed colleague, Mr Joel Seath, has written about being truly present as a playworker. Bearing witness to the play of children, as our great play theorist* Gordon Sturrock, has it.  He doesn’t blog, so you can’t read him online. Joel does blog, here:

http://playworkings.wordpress.com

What do we mean by being present, by witnessing?
Ben Tawil has a wonderful story about not interfering in play:

A teenaged boy is contemplating a leap from a high tower on an adventure playground. Ben, from a distance, is contemplating the situation. If the boy makes the jump, he will massively injure himself, that much is certain.

You’ll have to ask Ben if you need to know what happened. If you have ever been present, witnessing, you’ll know why you don’t need to know what happened. Of course you want to know what happened, as did I. I’ll ask him, and he might give me his version of the tale, which I can share here.

I know I’m being annoying and obscure: I can’t help it. I don’t have the time or patience to write a longer explanation or a shorter one for that matter•. In any case, this Zen stuff is not about Western-style explanation, it is about Eastern-style contemplation.

And contemplation is another word for reflection.

When I hear the word, I reach for my gun

Now pay attention, dear reader••, as I pick up my Zen gun and shoot myself in my metaphorical foot, by essaying that very Western sin – explaining the unexplainable. I may amuse.

So when we say: “A thousand mountain ranges separate the one who reflects from the one who is truly present.” I think we are saying that reflection is impossible if you have not been present, meaning that if you have not been present in the moment, living it, being there, witnessing everything that is going on, around you and inside you, outside of you and inside your head and your heart. Me, I don’t do that often, and I don’t do it often enough, not by a long chalk. I’m just saying that if you weren’t there, you cannot speak of it, can you?

So I offer you this: the key to reflective practice – key in the sense of opening the door –  is being truly present.

And once the door has been opened, you may or may not choose to step through, of course – that’s up to you.  And if you step through, you may fail to wander very far in the garden of reflection, but it’s a start. I’m exploring that garden myself, so I might bump into you there.

So…

Think on, as my dad used to say.

(Which is, of course, just another way of saying do some reflection.)

efd941a7eecc45aa70c0f924de6750f2

 

Footling footnotes at the foot of the present mountain:

*we have but a few truly great theorists of play: Bob Hughes, Bashō, Gordon Sturrock, Marc Bekoff, to name but a few (boys).**

** oh, and one  token girl: Judith Rich Harris.***

*** oh, alright then, one more girl: Penny Wilson

• A wise man apologised like this for going on at length –  well, I won’t take more time to explain, I’ll just refer you here:

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/04/28/shorter-letter/

•• reader? I hope for plural.

Disagreement is good: think on…

This link won’t make a lot of sense unless you both value and regularly practice not agreeing with people.

I put it that way to avoid the term ‘disagreement’ which, in these politically correct times, appears to many pale souls to be synonymous with being ‘disagreeable’, which is not.

When did it become fashionable to believe any rubbish?

When did it become stylish not to challenge daft ideas?

When did not agreeing or approving become almost the same as a hate crime?

(And in the case of some causes/issues/groups, when did it ACTUALLY become a hate crime?

I am entitled to my opinion!

(Still, I think – last time I checked)

You can’t learn without disagreement, even if it is disagreeing only with oneself.

And you certainly can’t ‘do reflective practice’ without, at the very least, disagreeing with yourself, and preferably with others.

Have a read, and as we used to say, think on.

“Argument: When losing is winning” http://feedly.com/k/152O0ku

My favourite A.S.Neill anecdote: if it featured a car, I could have called it ‘Cars and Girls’

Here’s my favourite Neill anecdote, told in my own words. It works like a stun grenade lobbed into the ivory tower of pedagogy and pediatric development, I reckon.

I’d like a snappy title: how about this:

“MANUAL WORK IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL”

Once there was a boy at Summerhill who could not read. Teachers were concerned about him, and wanted to help. Neill said, calmly and firmly: “No.”

The years went by and the boy –  still utterly illiterate and fast approaching his final year of school – wanted a motorbike: the key to his freedom to roam the leafy lanes of East Anglia, and the key to meeting GIRLS in the nearest town, several miles away.

That summer, as he turned sixteen (and became eligible for a provisional license to legally ride a 50cc motorcycle), he  discovered a rusting moped in a hedge.  He dragged the wreck back to Summerhill and set about restoring it. He scrubbed and cleaned until it gleamed.  Of course it wouldn’t go. It would need masses of mechanical and electrical know-how to get it going, if this were even possible.

So he went to Neill, they all called him Neill, and knocked quietly on the half-open door of Neill’s study, clutching the Haynes manual for the Honda 50, and asked: “ Neill , please will you teach me to read this?”

And Neill said, calmy and firmly:

“Yes.”

§

 

Thanks to Joel, for evoking this with your blog, to be found here:

http://playworkings.wordpress.com/2013/04/05/comparisons-of-some-early-twentieth-and-early-twenty-first-century-thinking-about-children/#respond

Start your reading about Neill here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._S._Neill

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/apr/23/leila-berg

(I think I would have first heard of Neill by reading an article in New Society by Leila Berg)

THE ART OF HELPING: Why is he drunk? What should I do? What I? What do?

subjaptrain

THE TRAIN CLANKED and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Our car was comparatively empty – a few housewives with their kids in tow, some old folks going shopping. I gazed absently at the drab houses and dusty hedgerows.

At one station the doors opened, and suddenly the afternoon quiet was shattered by a man bellowing violent, incomprehensible curses. The man staggered into our car. He wore laborers clothing, and he was big, drunk, and dirty. Screaming, he swung at a woman holding a baby. The blow sent her spinning into the laps of an elderly couple. It was a miracle that the was unharmed. Terrified, the couple jumped up and scrambled toward the other end of the car. The laborer aimed a kick at the retreating back of the old woman but missed as she scuttled to safety. This so enraged the drunk that he grabbed the metal pole in the center of the car and tried to wrench it out of its stanchion. I could see that on of his hands was cut and bleeding. The train lurched ahead, the passengers frozen with fear. I stood up.

I was young then, some 20 years ago, and in pretty good shape. I’d been putting in a solid eight hours of aikido training nearly every day for the past three years. I like to throw and grapple. I thought I was tough. Trouble was, my martial skill was untested in actual combat. As students of aikido, we were not allowed to fight.

“Aikido,” my teacher had said again and again, “is the art of reconciliation. Whoever has the mind to fight has broken his connection with the universe. If you try to dominate people, you are already defeated. We study how to resolve conflict, not how to start it.”

I listened to his words. I tried hard I even went so far as to cross the street to avoid the chimpira, the pinball punks who lounged around the train stations. My forbearance exalted me. I felt both tough and holy. In my heart, however, I wanted an absolutely legitimate opportunity whereby I might save the innocent by destroying the guilty.

This is it! I said to myself, getting to my feet. People are in danger and if I don’t do something fast, they will probably get hurt. Seeing me stand up, the drunk recognized a chance to focus his rage. “Aha!” He roared. “A foreigner! You need a lesson in Japanese manners!”

I held on lightly to the commuter strap overhead and gave him a slow look of disgust and dismissal. I planned to take this turkey apart, but he had to make the first move. I wanted him mad, so I pursed my lips and blew him an insolent kiss.”All right!” he hollered. “You’re gonna get a lesson.” He gathered himself for a rush at me.

A split second before he could move, someone shouted “Hey!” It was ear splitting. I remember the strangely joyous, lilting quality of it – as though you and a friend had been searching diligently for something, and he suddenly stumbled upon it. “Hey!”

I wheeled to my left; the drunk spun to his right. We both stared down at a little old Japanese. He must have been well into his seventies, this tiny gentleman, sitting there immaculate in his kimono. He took no notice of me, but beamed delightedly at the laborer, as though he had a most important, most welcome secret to share.

“C’mere,” the old man said in an easy vernacular, beckoning to the drunk. “C’mere and talk with me.” He waved his hand lightly. The big man followed, as if on a string. He planted his feet belligerently in front of the old gentleman, and roared above the clacking wheels, “Why the hell should I talk to you?” The drunk now had his back to me. If his elbow moved so much as a millimeter, I’d drop him in his socks.
The old man continued to beam at the laborer. “Whatcha been drinkin?” he asked, his eyes sparkling with interest.

“I been drinkin sake,” the laborer bellowed back, “and it’s none of your business!” Flecks of spittle spattered the old man.

japanese-persimmon“Oh, that’s wonderful,” the old man said, “absolutely wonderful! You see, I love sake too. Every night, me and my wife (she’s 76, you know), we warm up a little bottle of sake and take it out into the garden, and we sit on an old wooden bench. We watch the sun go down, and we look to see how our persimmon tree is doing. My great-grandfather planted that tree, and we worry about whether it will recover from those ice storms we had last winter. Our tree had done better than I expected, though especially when you consider the poor quality of the soil. It is gratifying to watch when we take our sake and go out to enjoy the evening – even when it rains!” He looked up at the laborer, eyes twinkling.

As he struggled to follow the old man’s conversation, the drunk’s face began to soften. His fists slowly unclenched. “Yeah,” he said. “I love persimmons too.” His voice trailed off.

“Yes,” said the old man, smiling, “and I’m sure you have a wonderful wife.”

“No,” replied the laborer. “My wife died.” Very gently, swaying with the motion of the train, the big man began to sob. “I don’t got no wife, I don’t got no home, I don’t got no job. I am so ashamed of myself.” Tears rolled down his cheeks; a spasm of despair rippled through his body.

Now it was my turn. Standing there in well-scrubbed youthful innocence, my make-this-world-safe-for-democracy righteousness, I suddenly felt dirtier than he was.

Then the train arrived at my stop. As the doors opened, I heard the old man cluck sympathetically. “My, my,” he said, “that is a difficult predicament, indeed. Sit down here and tell me about it.”
I turned my head for one last look. The laborer was sprawled on the seat, his head in the old man’s lap. The old man was softly stroking the filthy, matted hair.

As the train pulled away, I sat down on a bench. What I had wanted to do with muscle had been accomplished with kind words. I had just seen aikido tried in combat, and the essence of it was love. I would have to practice the art with an entirely different spirit. It would be a long time before I could speak about the resolution of conflict.

Terry Dobson

”I found this on the web, but it closely follows “A Kind Word Turneth Away Wrath” by Terry Dobson in ‘Aikido and the New Warrior’ edited by R. S. Heckler. The book chapter reads better; what follows sounds like a early draft. —SAP

and I found it here, says APB:

http://omlc.ogi.edu/aikido/talk/others/dobson.html

DEAR OTHER PARENTS AT THE PARK: Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you’ve just heard me tell them I wasn’t going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves

”I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn’t bring them to the park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it themselves.“

WOW. The only thing that stopped me just quoting the whole thing is blogettiquette – you MUST read every word of this!
http://alameda.patch.com/blog_posts/please-dont-help-my-kids

About a year ago I chided another playwork blogger for entertaining, or at least implying, that helping children is part of what we do as playwork people. This far better expresses my perspective than my querulous commenty bloggage of last year.

So I must reluctantly confine myself to a few choice quotes, those perhaps most pertinent to people who work with other people’s children:

”It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.“

”I want my girls to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success.“

”I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions. “

”I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.“

”I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.“

”I want them to climb that ladder without any help, however well-intentioned, from you.“

Read the whole thing –  maybe even memorise it and quote it next time somebody asks you “why?” – read it here:

http://alameda.patch.com/blog_posts/please-dont-help-my-kids

Learning is a verb, it isn’t a noun.

This is the latest instalment in a ‘diablogue’ a dialogue between two minds (mine and Joel Seath’s). From now on I’ll categorise or dialog blogs in the category ‘diablog’ sub-category ‘diablog with Joel Seath’. That will make them easier to track.

Joel, you picked up on  what I said about RP – ‘highly individualised/customised cycles’ and such. I had to re-read what I had written to understand it as the context for your comments. I realise that my brevity has once again misled (I like being misled, but it is an ‘issue’ for brevity).

When I was at LGMB I ran a project on organisational learning (which led to my book)  – do organisations learn? how? This meant that I had to study learning some more, I already had a degree in psychology and training and development qualification so I had already studied how we learn quite a bit. Kolb’s learning cycle (http://www.businessballs.com/kolblearningstyles.htm great website, btw) often cropped up. Then I met Erskine Grant who told me two things: 1- that Maslow was a pillock and 2- he added an extra phase ‘publishing’ to the Kolb cycle, immediately after ‘experience’.

So my view on individualised learning is this:

a – I think the modified Kolb is a good description of the process as it exists for most people. Most people have a nose and 2 eyes and a mouth.
b – I think how people go about doing each stage is as varied as the human face
c – there’s a danger, which the majority seem to fall into to read Kolb as Cosmo-style personality test thing. This isn’t helped by the Honey/Mumford idea of ‘your learning style’ derived from Kolb. Although the trainers say that we need to go all round the cycle, nobody takes any notice – they do the test and exclaim ‘I’m an active experimenter! or I’m a diverger’ or whatever.

The reality is that we can’t really avoid going round the cycle, because that is human learning, but we do have a tendency to focus in our favourite mode. All this is explained in that weblink, which includes, I am reminded, the backlash against ‘learning styles’ in UK education. A backlash which, IMHO, is fully justified.

What has to be present as we learn is ‘being present’! If we don’t pay attention to our learning, if we just go through the motions, stuck in the mode that feel comfortable in, then that’s, erm, not very good.

What is important, as you highlight, is that we must, we must pay attention to, and we must put the work in to develop our own ‘highly individualised/customised cycles’ of learning.

RP isn’t a recipe we can follow in a book, it is a PROCESS, a CYCLE.

LEARNING isn’t a thing, a ‘learning point’, it is a PROCESS.

Unfortunately this has all been lost in the business world and in training and development,where you now see foolish chat about:

– what are the key learning points to take away?
– what is are the learnings?

(and this one, heard just now-

10/11/2012@14:31

– on the radio:

“… I’m sure lessons need to be learned but …”

This trope emerges when someone wants to close something rather than open it. It signifies a mindset which sees learning as an interruption to everyday life, rather than as a vital process within everyday life.

And this reminds me that I ought to post some carsean thinking here soon.)

As a writer I have prejudices. Generally I prefer verbs to nouns. Learning is a verb, it isn’t a noun.

My eyes are thinking about what is behind your eyes: Ways of Seeing and Theory of Mind

About this blog item: it has a peculiar status. It is a sort of semi-public, semi-private thing. It came about in response to a friends blog, so what you are about to read is a half-finished item with some rough edges. I’m posting it now because I’m not sure that I will get round to finishing it for months, by which time the debate will have moved on. 

It was written in response to:

 Ways of seeing: interpretation (first draft thinking)   

 which is a rattling good read.

Let me say firstly, Joel: well done, nice work.

I know you are being very cautious in your piece and we both know why. I can well believe that it took you a week to think it  and a day to write it. I haven’t done mine yet [ the unfinished blog that I sent you, that you mention], I’m still thinking.

And you are right to call it a first draft, it is very much that.

(I’ve been wondering whether we should co-write a piece, being as how we is both struggling with this material, drawing on both our bloggages, to act as part of the input to my ‘Love and Play, Play and Love’ workshop. I’m just mentioning that in passing as an interesting idea.)

I love the way you mention ‘love’ the nitty-gritty, somewhere in the middle of the piece! Did I tell you the story of Humberto Maturana and his son in the field of thistles? Ask me if I didn’t. Maturana has developed a biological theory of cognition – the strong claim is that all living systems think. Wow, oh wow, to quote Steve Job’s Zennic dying words. Maturana also talks about love from this biological cognitive standpoint: love is the punchline of the thistle story.

I rarely give advice because people don’t often like receiving advice, even when they ask for it – it’s a bit like playwork: the advice-giver can so easily disrupt the playframe of the other person. So I’m very pleased and flattered that you took my advice and actually read Berger’s ‘Ways of Seeing’ as well as quoting my thinking in detail.

This prompted me to look back to see the genesis of my interest in Beth Chatto. (note to readers, that’s Chatto, not Ditto, mind you she’s groovy also). Because I’ve been using my own Macs since 1993 and have kept everything I have ever written since then, religiously backing it up to external hard drives and transferring to the latest machine, it means that I now have a 19 year history of both other people’s writing that was interesting enough for me to download, and my own ouevre. Researching my own ‘MacArchive’ tells me that I did a briefing for managers based on an article by Peter Senge about a biological approach to systems thinking in 2001, which didn’t mention her, but featured a photo of her garden. I also recall that I had read a long interview with her in either the Times or the Grauniad and had kept the article (now misplaced or lost) and scanned in the photo. It seems fitting that the ideas of what I called a Chattoist approach in my unfinished blog have been growing slowly for nearly twelve years, and are only now beginning to bear fruit.

My linking of Berger’s Ways of Seeing to Chattoism only occurred to me as I wrote the unfinished blog, and I have had further thoughts since then. I’ll mention them here briefly.

I have also been thinking about Theory of Mind for several years. I now realise that ‘the theory behind the gaze’ is what distinguishes this intense seeing from the glance of an unthinking reactive playworker who tidies up my piece of cardboard while it is catching the light.  The key difference is the nature of the ‘theory of mind’ that is in operation. Surely the development of a playworker’s theory of mind is a, if not the, key goal of reflective practice?

That deadly phrase ‘reflective practice’ has been bugging me for years – it has become a holy writ in playwork, and we know that the higher a practice ascends into scripture the more it loses its meaning in the quotidian world. (Not Bob’s fault of course, you don’t get to chose your disciples, as I know to my cost; we must give him credit for promulgating RP, but we can’t hold him responsible for its dumbing down. All hail, reflective practice, shame we seem to have forgotten what it means. If it means anything it is about a learning cycle (mine’s a modified Kolb with an extra stage –  ”publishing“), which is much more than merely recording ‘stuff what happened’ in note form. The cycle has to go all the way round: the observations must be processed, and theorised about, and drawn upon when next we encounter our clientele, or it’s just a diary of cute stuff some kids did last week. RP is the process by which we develop our Chattoist eye, our playwork ‘ways of seeing’, our ‘playwork theory of mind’.

Looking over what I have just written I realise I have done the same as you: made only glancing reference to love and said much about seeing. I’m thinking back to when I first read ‘Ways of Seeing’ – I suspect that I bought the book in 1973 or ’74, so it would’ve coincided with my discovery of Taoism and Zen. Might as well mention all my influences from back then, well as many as I can recall or care to mention: free schools, Summerhill and A.S.Neill, alternative education,  feminism, the Whole Earth Catalog, Intermediate Technology, Arts Labs. Later, in the 80s, I  was influenced by personal development and groupwork and community arts and community development.

 

Enough.

 

 

 

Minor question for you: You quote Berger – did you find some of his book online or someone’s summary of it? If you did could you send me the link, please?  I only have my dog-eared copy of the book, and I’m not sure where it is!

 

 

Finally edited into this semi-finished state on Monday, November 5, 2012,  intermittently, from  about 7 am until   12:36 pm.