In this brief post I can do no better than direct your attention to the joint open letter to the ASTM committee by the Chair of the UK Play Safety Forum, Robin Sutcliffe and Tim Gill. It makes cogent and informed points that underscore the reasonableness of those urging ASTM to defer passing its current proposals in respect of playground surfacing.
In a similar vein, I urge you to read – if you have not already done so – Jay Beckwith’s blog on the same subject.
I add two points of my own:
1. It is important to value, to hold fast to, our common sense, observation and experienced-based knowledge about children, their competency, behaviour, and risk assessing capabilities. ‘Objective’ statistical data represents but one form of evidence. It says nothing in particular in the absence of a value-based framework within which ‘facts’ can be weighted and assessed.
2. It is clear that opposition is growing to the ASTM proposals. Voices are being raised, arguments made, blogs being written. It strikes me – as it has done for some time – that there is also a need to organise, to generate an institutional form that can build on current concerns, and which can channel, inform and maintain a much needed, wide ranging discussion about play equipment and surfacing standards. I hope my American friends will not accuse me of trespass if I suggest that this move is most immediately pressing in the USA.
I intend to return in more detail to the issues raised here and in the blogs referenced above in March once back from India where – on a recalcitrant guest house keyboard – this note has been written.
A final observational note: if you want proof of the competency of children, and their capacity to care for one another, visit this amazing country where such evidence is daily before one’s eyes.