Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Playworkers for Playwork

I was extremely privileged to be invited to Sheffield to take part in what was called "Play Education: the argument for playwork". It was a two day long forum/discussion with a star-studded crowd of playworkers (and little ol' me) making the case for playwork.

I have to admit that I arrived in Sheffield at 8am yesterday morning without much idea of what I was getting myself into. Here is a photo of that moment:

190/365 - Zan goes on playwork discussion adventures!
Here's me, next to the fountain sculpture thing right outside the train station. Still very sleepy.

I'll admit to you right now that everything is a bit of a blur. We discussed many many things. We discussed reasons for the decreased interest in playwork, and how best we can remedy that. We talked about the definition of playwork, and how best to define the role of a playworker in a way that is tangible and unambiguous. We took some steps towards a professional governing body for playwork while we looked into the necessary steps that we should take to secure playwork as a sector for the future. We had big thoughts and talked about big things. It was all a bit, well, big.

There were so many thoughts, discussions and ideas that my doodling surfaced to help me focus. Yes, the army of robots arrived to aid me in my concentration, so concentrated in fact that the robots were everywhere. Here is a small sample of them:

191/365 - Zan thinks big thoughts while drawing robots.

My emotions got the better of me when I looked around and made a sudden and epic realisation: there was a group of 30 playworkers who have a passion for children's play giving up 2 days and paying from their own pocket to attend a forum that aimed to make the sector better. To me, this is significant because it means we care. There is no "that'll do" in this room of playworkers. We genuinely want better, want to do something, and want to care more. I don't think many formal or set conclusions were made at the end of this forum, but one thing is for sure: we want to take action. Now we probably just need another meeting to work out what that action might be.

I had a really good coupla days eventhough my brain is in complete meltdown. I have to say though, what a plunge into the deep end for my PhDing though. I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to talk more about my practice and belief than in the last 48 hours, and especially in front of so many experienced, respected and admired experts in the field. It really freaked me out. But I did it!

And you know what the funniest part of it was for me? Going down to the pub and eating my fish and chips with the people who wrote my textbooks. Strange. Odd. Awesome.

On my table were Meynell Walters, Adrian Voce, Bob Hughes and Fraser Brown.

I met some great people over the last two days, but it's going to take me a couple of days to recover before I can talk about playwork again, I think. I just need time for everything to sink in. 

Hoorah for playwork, and hoorah for playworkers who care about playwork.

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