This blog represents a departure from its usual hunting ground. It addresses a subject that I have been itching to speak about via this medium for some time. My reluctance to do so, until now, was based on my awareness that my understanding of the issue was based primarily on book-learning, newspaper/magazine articles and lectures, albeit over many, many years. I speak of the Palestine/Israel situation.
What releases me now is that I was fortunate to join an Extended Study Tour of Palestine/Israel (1) that gave me the opportunity to see for myself the situation on the ground, and to meet organisations and individuals affected by, and assiduously seeking to counter, the gross injustices perpetrated by the Israeli state. This by no means makes me an expert, and no such claim is registered here. But I have given myself permission to write about it in what is, after all, my blog.
Reader, you may wish to read on, or quietly depart, either before what follows, or after.
It’s a model of sustainability and the philosophy of ‘using what’s to hand’: once Israeli soldiers have knocked down the school room, the sophistication of the design, coupled to the nature of the building material – locally made mud bricks – ensure that it can be resurrected within hours by local Palestinians. Which is just as well, for the Israeli army is quite likely to turn up again to repeat what I imagine they call an exercise. Or they turn their attention to another village school there to demonstrate, once again, their capacity for wanton destruction. Not to mention at the same time traumatising children and humiliating parents and teachers alike. Continue reading
I think it fair to say that within the broad community of play advocates – play designers, landscape architects, play provision providers, pedagogues – play equipment and surfacing Standards have not been a hot topic of debate or contention. For some they were, and continue to be, a form of assurance as to the ‘safety’ of a product; and, in addition, they may even be taken as a proxy indicator of that quasi-mystical quality: play value.
For others, Standards in their current form are a source of bemusement, if not irritation, seen as impeding the possibility of creating rich and varied play environments.
But what this diverse constituency has in common, is the shared sense that play equipment and surface Standards descend as from on high, are created via processes and people they know not, but whose pronouncements have the force and authority of Holy Writ, to be adhered to, but not questioned.
That was then. Now is now.
‘Now’ is marked by the steady growth, and the coming together, of a diverse constituency of pedagogues, play advocates, academics, designers, individuals from within Standard-making bodies, all seized of the need to examine Standards, how they are formulated, who formulates them, their scope and their practical consequences ‘on the ground’. And this constituency is growing. Continue reading
Truly, there are no boundaries to the surreal.
Or perhaps Rockhampton Regional Council wishes to demonstrate its sense of humour.
Or a particular world view taken to its logical conclusion – reductio ad absurdum
With thanks to Liselle Wolmarans and Free Range Kids
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