Category Archives: Training and learning

It’s not all progress


I want in the article that follows, and the next one,  to consider aspects of the resistance, current and developing, to what can be called the ‘pro-risk’ movement in respect of play and outdoor learning.

In this, I’m as interested in the subjective, internalised, self-oppression experienced by at least some – I hazard to suggest actually many – practitioners, a symptom of which is abiding by norms that they rationally disavow, as much as objective factors such as the hold Standards have on thought and action. 

This piece, I’m afraid, ends in a minor key.

Progress and movement

I remember thinking myself rather bright – a momentary conceit – when, in some essay or other, upon which matter I cannot now recall, I drew a distinction between progress and mere movement, and the danger of mistaking the latter for the former.   It is, I think, a not uncommon error which, unchecked, can restrict vision to that which one likes to see.  The concomitant danger being threats, barriers and counter-currents come to occupy only one’s peripheral vision, or are pushed out of sight completely.

These musings once again tapped me on the shoulder as I enjoyed the splendid three day 5th International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) conference in Lund, Sweden, hosted by the formidable City of Lund’s Naturskolan team.   The programme included visits to some quite delicious school grounds and public spaces.  Green, ‘natural’ spaces, needless to say.  The taste reference, by the way, is not misplaced since the treats included first rate lunches grown and/or cooked by local schools.  Continue reading

The limitations of training

The limitations of training

I’m prompted to write about the limitations of training – a long held view – because I suspect we are about to see at least a minor surge in authorities and organisations commissioning ‘training’ in risk-benefit assessment. To the degree that this indicates a growing commitment to making judgments about provision for play from a risk-benefit perspective, this is to be welcomed.

It’s worth noting, however, that a risk-benefit assessment technique is itself neutral – it has no opinion; it can engender a range of decisions, ones that can contradict each other.  But those promoting risk-benefit assessment – me included – are anything but neutral about what they wish to achieve from a risk-benefit approach to assessing play provision.  A conundrum, then, and worth a few words to reflect on it. Continue reading