Has the play movement* done it’s job? Do we even need to save it? Should we just shut up and let playful people remake the world, in a onesie, one library at a time?

Definition (extract – Encyclopaedia Ludica, 5th edition 2027)

*Play Movement, The  (UK terminology, see disambiguation)

”The Play Movement, characterised by its obsession with free play for its own sake, the garish primary-coloured clothing of its fervent early adherents and their wearing enthusiasm, was born in the squats of Notting Hill, in the 1960s. Some say that it was influenced by the Dutch ‘junk playground’ experiments, and the Arts Lab movement. Others trace its genesis to the free festival ‘Playstock’, held in a field near Bolton, Lancashire, where a massive artwork featuring a large number of small holes dug in the ground was created by participants. An early presaging of crowd-based art, that also inspired  a verse in the Beatles’ song “Day in the Life”.  Since the late 1980s, the movement, some say, took a wrong turn and became mired in the qualification structures of childcare. Meanwhile, in wider society, playfulness blossomed.”

(Authors: Fernando Pessoa and Hugo Grinmore. ©Wintermute/Geneva AI holdings SARL)

That entry forms a preamble to this interesting article:

Would More People Use the Public Library If It Had a Water Slide?

“In 2010, Poland’s National Library performed a survey to determine the reading habits of the Polish citizenry. The results were not buoying: 56 percent of Poles had not read a book in the past year, either in hard or electronic form. Just as bad was that 46 percent had not attempted to digest anything longer than three pages in the previous month – and this included students and university graduates.

But who’s to blame here: The willfully non-literate masses for not trekking to the public library? Or is it the library’s fault for not attracting these individuals, what with its classically stodgy, hermetic-cage-for-learning design?

At least one Polish architect believes libraries should bear some of the blame for a lack of reading. Hugon Kowalski, who runs UGO Architecture and Design, thinks that no matter how grand or inspiring a library’s appearance is, many people will not flock to it unless it offers amenities other than plopping down with a book. “A modern building will not attract new users to a library, at least not in the long run,” he writes. “People interested in its novelty will probably go there only once.” So Kowalski conceived of a new kind of library…“

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/03/would-more-people-use-public-library-if-it-had-water-slide/5019/

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

New rules for fragile, vicious children

Attention, people who work with children, these are the truths you should teach your customers:

  • You can do what you like, steal or hurt others, it doesn’t matter, so long as nobody sees you, or your mate will lie for you – because guilt is dependent on proof and not conscience
  • Deny everything and call them liars. demand proof
  • Don’t apologise! It isn’t in your own interest
  • Accuse people –  it feels good and makes you powerful
  • Zero tolerance is great – they’ll assume they did it!
  • Children shouldn’t choose who they play with

What’s that? You don’t agree? Why not? You are against bullying, aren’t you? You don’t agree with bullying, do you? You support AntiBullying Week, don’t you? How dare you disagree, you bully!

Well, if you support anti-bullying, you must support those statements, because all those ‘truths’ are the consequence of anti-bullying policies. Which leads me to this article denouncing anti-bullying policies, which contains the most cogent argument I have ever read on the issue. Read these quotes, then follow the link below:

“Whether we like it or not, arguing, teasing and fighting are normal parts of childhood. Learning to tell the difference between a spat and systematic bullying should be a basic parenting skill, but our much vaunted zero-tolerance policies on bullying make it impossible. They also make it very difficult for children to reform their behaviour.

”…[W]hen every incident is treated like a potential crime, teachers’ roles change dramatically.

“She cannot simply say: stop it! Nor can she simply scold the perpetrator or propose such age-old solutions as ‘shake hands and make up’. Her job is no longer to educate, but to investigate. Once a report is being made, the accused child’s parents immediately – and quite naturally – become Jack’s defence advocates. They tell their child to deny everything and challenge every accusation by demanding irrefutable proof. …

“The process demeans the teacher’s authority, eliminates arbitration and belittles personal responsibility, as it teaches children that guilt is dependent on proof and not conscience, and that sincere apologising is not honorable but contrary to self-interest.

And children do learn. They soon learn that making accusations gives power, and zero tolerance means the presumption of guilt. Our current interpretation of bullying is entirely subjective, thus bullying occurs whenever someone feels he or she has been bullied. We have already had a case of bullying where Jack told Jill she has a nice hat. Jack thought he was complementing her, but Jill interpreted it as a sarcastic remark.

“In another case, boys who didn’t allow a girl into their game were considered bullies by way of exclusion. So children no longer have the luxury of choosing who they play with. It was not systematic shunning; but a single incident was enough.

”For those of us who still believe that children are neither as vicious nor as fragile as we are now led to believe, it’s time to realise that the over-officious anti-bullying campaigns are a part of the problem.”

Eero-Iloniemi-AntiBullying

A school, modified play, and the danger of leaves

A school, modified play, and the danger of leaves

Nothing to add to this superb blog. Go read it.

 

 

 

 

~~~ I'D LIKE TO HAVE SEEN BASHO AT…

~~~

I’D LIKE TO HAVE SEEN,
BASHO AT WORK IN 1674,
WHEN HE RAN,
THE ‘EDO PREFECTURE CHILDREN’S PLAY GARDEN #8’,
.

~~~

I’d like to have seen Basho at work when he ran ‘Edo Prefecture Children’s Play Garden #8’ in 1674.

He was only there for two years. Argument with management.

Here is a reasonably-well transliterified version of what he wrote, 300 years ago, in a different language, on the other side of your planet:

the first cold rainstorm –

even the monkey seems to want

a little straw raincoat

Basho (1644 – 1694)

That seems an apposite haiku for the cold winter of our dis-affluence and the cold winter of our weather.

Don’t read on, I talk about poetry!

  • too late!

Here is another (older?), version:

Winter downpour
even the monkey
needs a raincoat

Although, I, being both a haiku ponce and nerd, prefer the first version:

The first cold rainstorm:
Even the monkey seems to want
a little straw raincoat.

And notice that I replaced that softer colon with a minidash, to honour the ‘cutting’ of the rules of haiku.*

The first translitation gets to the point, and enables the non-Japanese to ‘get it’, sort of, but Basho is being more specific and allusive (and ill- and el -usive) when he describes the first cold rain and the onset of winter in japan.

Japan is on the same latitude —or is it longi- ?— same -tude, anyway, meaning same distance above equator as the UK, but much colder, because it has no gulf stream, is an island chain in deep ocean not on a continental shelf, and has Siberia and Alaska as cold and distant neighbours.

And Basho would never presume to know what the monkey needs or wants.

Like Wittgenstein, he wouldn’t presume to know what a monkey might say, even if a monkey could speak English (or Japanese), he would merely offer a tentative finger pointing to a possibility…

A bit like a good playworker gently deflecting a child’s request to draw her a picture of a house (except when we don’t deflect, added a wiser playworker).

He might want to make a toothpick from the straw of the coat, or, he might want want to…

This exquisite ‘tentativity’ (!) is present in Basho almost always. And in good playworkers often.

I’d like to have seen Basho at work when he ran ‘Edo Prefecture Children’s Play Garden #8’ in 1674.

footlike notational bottom matter:

  • rules of haiku.

There are several schools, on a continuum. One extreme is the ‘It has to have 17 syllables’ school: this is stupid for about 37 reasons (yes, ask me at break). The other is the ‘Just write what you feel, maan and arrange it like a poem, like’. That one is stupid as well, not in 37 small ways but in a 3 bigger ways.

I like to think I fall between two schools, because I don’t own a chair and I’m on the edge of both their catchment areas. But check out my SATs.**

footlike feetnote to the foot above:

  • SATs

My new acronym for SOCIAL ARGUMENT TECHNOLOGY, which is my NEW management methodology.

http www ctheory net articles aspx id=479 1000…

http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=479

1000 DAYS OF THEORY

The Rhetorics of Life and Multitude in Michel Foucault and Paolo Virno

Stuart J. Murray

———quoting from it————————————————————

“Go get slaughtered and we promise you a long and pleasant life.”[1]

With no small sense of irony, Foucault here apostrophizes the terrifying voice of the Sovereign State. apostrophization makes some kind of perverse sense discourse, as political life, social life, and ethical life. What, then, is life? A “objective” and “subjective” definitions
More precisely, in a rhetorical vein I fear the fundamentalist collapse of speaking and being matrimony. The word becomes Truth, alongside Italian theorist Paolo Virno’s recent work, A Grammar of the Multitude. I demonstrate how Virno expands upon Foucault (5), adding more trenchantly “grammar”

Virno opens the possibility for a “post-political politics,”

1. Biopolitical Life in Foucault: From “Taking Life” to “Making Live”

2. Ethical Life in Foucault: The Self’s Relation to Itself

This is certainly a rather grim depiction of life, biopoliticized, mechanized, reduced to bare biological processes, to technique. But it is not Foucault’s final word on “life.” I turn now to Foucault’s late work on ethics or “ethical life” from circa 1979 until his death in 1984. I contend that these late texts a regulatory third self that would transcend space and time, we will be forced to admit that we are at an utter loss to say which “self” is really “mine” and within my power; the “two selves” never fully coincide. posits
Alcibiades, Socrates cares not just for Alcibiades, but for Alcibiades’ care of himself, Foucault’s own iteration, and our very uptake of the word. The genealogy is staggering,

———end of quoting from it————————————————————

” animals have social lives rich beyond our…

”…animals have social lives rich beyond our imagining, and that cooperation and caring have shaped the course of evolution every bit as much as competition and ruthlessness have.“

That comes from this excellent article
(thanks to Morgan for alerting me to it via her blog)
here:

”Moral in Tooth and Claw“
by Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff

http://chronicle.com/article/Moral-in-%20ToothClaw/48800/

The recently deceased Lyn Margulis might well have said that, around 20 or 30 years ago. Until she came along, biology was dominated by men who believed that the story of evolution was their story; a manly story of competition, a manly story of manly fighting and war and competition and conflict and did you spill my pint. The story of evolution, according to the people who chose to misunderstand and misinterpret Darwin, is the story of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’. The first person to challenge that notion was Margulis. Initially burnt at the stake by angry men, and thrown out of the boy’s science club for being a girl and wrong, she has, in recent times, been acknowledged as the brilliant scientist what she is/was.

That is a terrible paragraph, and I’m embarrassed, I’m being as vague as 4th former who left his biology textbook on the bus.

I’m just saying that the legacy of her work is clear in this article. Anyone in biology who studies cooperation owes a debt to her. I’m such a fanboy.

“…for many nonhuman primates, more than 90 percent of their social interactions are affiliative rather than competitive or divisive…”

And in this summers riots, more than 90 percent of our feral young people, didn’t.

Isn’t it time that we stood up to the right-wing idiots who tell us that our children are behaving like animals?

(oh, and thank you Barnardo’s – here’s that link: https://plexity.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/terence-blacker-alarmism-thats-no-help-to-children-terence-blacker-commentators-the-independent/)

And isn’t it time, to stretch a point, to point out that if we really meant that children were behaving like animals, then we would, like, actually be saying that “more than 90 percent of their social interactions are affiliative rather than competitive or divisive” and that “as animals they have social lives rich beyond our imagining, and that cooperation and caring have shaped the course of their evolution every bit as much as competition and ruthlessness have?

So to labour the point and sum up:

If you tell me I’m behaving like an animal, I’ll take it as compliment, and no I didn’t threw up behind the sofa, that was the cat.

We all should be concerned about this ugly blame game over the M5 pile-up

The ugly blame game over the M5 pile-up | Tim Black | spiked.

Some extracts below. I hold no brief for the Spiked mob, their post-Marxist nihilism disguised as gung-ho responsibilism has more than a whiff of apolitical decadence to it; having said that, sometimes they locate a nail and hammer it all the way in. This is one such piece of stout carpentry:

“/… instead, it has been marked with a peculiarly contemporary impulse: a desire to blame, to find someone or something responsible. In the eyes of those willing to see something more than tragic misfortune at work, this was not an accident; it was caused by the contemporary equivalent of a bad spirit.Not that there was particularly compelling evidence for assuming that smoke from a fireworks display was the cause. As one Transport minister Mike Penning explained, the smoke that witnesses claimed to have seen at the time of the crash could just as likely have come from one of the several burning vehicles. Pyrotechnics experts have also been sceptical about the possibility of fireworks-related smoke travelling and then forming a ‘bank of smoke’ thick enough drastically to affect visibility. But then it doesn’t seem to have been evidence that informed speculation about the role played by a relatively small fireworks display 500 metres away. Rather, such blame-casting draws its force from the increasingly widespread antagonism towards fireworks, whether it’s kids getting their hands on them, or the supposed health‘n’safety implications that make Bonfire Night, in the words of one crash-related commentary, ‘the worst day of the year for air pollution’.”

Can I just interject here? Would any vaguely recycling conscious thrifty person actually want to ban bonfires because of air pollution? Why not ban people?  Well, some deep greens are happy to see us humans made extinct. Pah. Sorry, Captain Black, go on…

“/… In fact, there are all too many people willing to exploit a terrible accident in pursuit of those to blame. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a bonfire-less fireworks display being held responsible or lorries travelling at four miles under their 60 miles-per-hour speed limit: the search for the will-o’-the-wisp culprit, the reason for what steadfastly remains an accident, has paid no attention to what happened on Friday evening. Instead, that reality has been effaced in favour of what various campaigners and commentators want to believe happened.”

YES: AN ACCIDENT! Sorry, go on, Timbo…

“/… This unswerving conviction is marked by something almost medieval in sentiment. That is, there is a refusal to accept that no one or no thing is to blame for what happened. In other words, there is a refusal to face up to the fact that accidents, no matter how tragic, do happen. In place of the modern acknowledgement of sheer contingency, they revive a pre-modern belief in some animating spirit at work in the world. So just as a fourteenth-century village beset by bad harvests might hold the presence of a particular person responsible, so today’s willing blamers foist responsibility for a terrible accident on to a set of unwilling scapegoats, be they speed-happy motorists or a group of pyrotechnicians.

”One thing is for sure: while this cacophony of blaming may well result in the even tighter regulation of fireworks displays or a climate yet more inhospitable to motorists, it will do nothing to stop accidents from happening.”

LET’S REPEAT THAT: 

IT WILL DO NOTHING TO STOP ACCIDENTS FROM HAPPENING!

Grr.

Not just an Ugly Logo » Penny Wilson…

Not just an Ugly Logo. » Penny Wilson.

PATH applied for funds to create a sort of Play Olympics – go read her item. Here’s a quote:

“The rejection feed back told us that, amongst other things, the ‘ non-competitive emphasis of the project was anti-Olympic.’

There you have it. The rhetoric is clear. This Olympic extravaganza is an elitist event. There is nothing that should not strive for a sort of eugenic supremacy. The Olympic park is where this excellence will be contained . The peripheries will stay as they are to heighten the contrast. There will be no legacy except that of a healthy reinforcing of the status quo. If we are all delighted that we do not need to be ‘The Best’ , if we are content to be ‘good enough’, not perfect or a failure but content and happy with ourselves and each other, then the Olympics becomes a meaningless pantomime.

”A ring of poverty is needed as a setting for the jewel.

“And we have that ghastly logo more and more rubbed into our faces.”

Ugly does as ugly looks, Pen.

 

Ugly tin-eared logo-choosing managerialist supremacist commodifying senior managers are hardly likely to choose sensitive beauty at this late stage.

Yet another warped adult play type, methinks, just like Spaghetti Junction is a dysplay of Scalextric deprivation in small boys growing up to be transport planners…

And the horror of that logo! it supposedly appeals to yoof, just like early learning primary colours appeal to babies. They don’t, but boy do they signify! They signify (warning outrageous over-the-top unforgiveable holocaust analogy alert – as Bill Hicks probably said – I make jokes about serious things and vice versa, doesn’t mean it’s demeaning or not serious) that the building on which they are emblazoned is a prison controlled by play destroying adults  – it’s as if they have a sign saying ‘Spielen Macht Frei’.

Grrrr.