“Play is a biological necessity that puts the child in the driving seat.”
The play theorist Bob Hughes inspired the recent Forest School Association conference with his words about play. There were challenges in that speech for us all too. He talked about when children’s play becomes sexualised and violent. Play which makes us, the adult uncomfortable. He said that if we truly support the play process then we should allow it to ‘play’ out. That a child needs to have a range of experiences for their healthy development and the adult should not intervene with this process. For me and for others at the conference this conundrum is manifested regularly in the woods when we see a child’s interaction with living things and when those thing are killed or harmed because of the interaction.
com·mon·sense \?kä-m?n-?sen(t)s\ adjective : sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts
People often say that effective risk assessments are the application of common sense. I tend to agree, but, different people have different perceptions based on their differing experience. The questions are then; how do we collect all that sense? How do we hold it in common so that everyone in a team, organisation or partnership shares the wealth of experience on offer? This is the role, to my mind, of the risk assessment. The process of collecting all that experience and judgment together to give us a ‘common sense’ of what is possible and how we make it work for the benefit for the participants.
But when children are given the opportunity to direct their own play and learning, then what they are doing could go beyond the collective experience which is recorded in those risk assessments. How do we make judgements then? [..read more..]
Risk taking is widely understood to be a natural part of a child’s development. Adults who work with children are moving on from thinking of risk only in the context of ‘the risk assessment’ which decides those things are too dangerous to allow. [..read more..]
I was just repacking and checking through the safety bag that I take into the woods with me and I felt like something was missing. There had been a lot more space in the bag over the summer but as the weather changes so does the contents of my safety bag. [..read more..]
I thought I’d share with you a little doodle I had in the last edition of the Forest School Association newsletter. This is based on something that happened with a group I was working with a few years ago.
When you follow the children’s ideas you end up in very interesting places!
There are some projects that really stay with you. I worked with Brudenell Primary School in Leeds for over two years, helping them embed Forest School into their curriculum, and providing training and support. [..read more..]
Sunrise from our camp on West bay. Photo: Tim Rowe
I have recently come back from a month long trip deep into the wilderness in NW Ontario, Canada. Which almost explains how quiet I have been here recently. It has been a lot to process. [..read more..]
For a few years I managed the transition of the only self-build Adventure Playground in Bradford, the Big Swing, from the statutory into the voluntary sector. Supporting the staff and managing the site through a period of transition gave me a real insight into the value of Adventure Playgrounds and the capability of children and young people. [..read more..]
I recently spent a week in Hamburg and Berlin with a study tour for play professionals co-ordinated by ip-dip.com and www.meynellgames.org. The tour took us to scrapstores, adventure playgrounds, public parks and playspaces, community provision, waldkindergarten and green school playgrounds. [..read more..]
I am, by nature a peaceful sort. However I often find myself building and making weapons. I do like the satisfaction of seeing a stick shooting off into the distance fired by a home made bow and we have made some constructions (that could best be described as siege engines!) that would fire pebble a good distance. [..read more..]