Are you a playworker?

Reminder emails about the Eastbourne Playwork Conference keep appearing in my inbox – I can’t believe it’s so soon!

I’ll be presenting the award for Playwork Writer, and want to send my Big Fat Congratulations to everyone shortlisted for the many various and wonderful awards.  It’s going to be an amazing group of people, and I’m so excited to be there for the whole thing, talking about the Study Tour to Istanbul last April, and facilitating a workshop called The Processes of Becoming a Playworker.

I cannot tell you how much grammatical tinkering I did with that title.  Swapped out Process for Processes.  Added Being to Becoming.  Was this the right time to resort to the old academic trick of titling it Something Catchy: Many Obscure Terms in a Ridiculously Long Sentence, I wondered?  Luckily reason prevailed – it is never the right time for that.  At one point I lost my mind a little and started throwing in festive parentheses as if I was back in undergraduate Women’s Studies.  The Process(es) of (Being and) Becoming a Playworker.  Finally, I abandoned all of these changes in favor of the simple title that Meynell had drawn out of our conversation, but this back and forth demonstrates the reason why I’d been excited about this topic in the first place – and why I started and keep this blog.

Playwork is COMPLICATED.  It is a nuanced and personal process.  Becoming a playworker takes time and is never finished.

So, dear readers, I’d like to enlist you all in considering these questions:

– What makes someone a playworker?

– How did you start becoming a playworker?

– When did you feel like a playworker?

– Is there such a thing as a “natural playworker”?

– What are, in your experience, some of the landmarks of a playworker’s development?

– What have you seen and felt when training or mentoring other playworkers?

All stories, anecdotes, and answers-in-the-form-of-more-questions are welcome, either here in the comments or to me by email!

 

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6 thoughts on “Are you a playworker?

  1. – What makes someone a playworker?

    Having a solid understanding of basic play theory, understanding how this does and should affect what they do/don’t do. Knowing what you are meant to be doing before, during and after play sessions (prep, playwork, RAP). Listening, and being responsive and kind to children and supporting their own play. Awareness of your own values that you bring to work.

    – How did you start becoming a playworker?
    By working with children in other contexts (arts workshops), observing what they did when they were given their own space, time, materials and permissions to do what they wanted.

    – When did you feel like a playworker?
    I most felt like a playworker when I was running children’s art sessions on a council estate town hall with a friend/colleague. We had no restrictions, specific aims (apart from having a creative space), guidelines, proper supervision, policies or agendas, we were just instinctively doing what I later on found out was good playwork.

    – Is there such a thing as a “natural playworker”?
    Yes – please see above.

    – What are, in your experience, some of the landmarks of a playworker’s development?
    Understanding what is good and bad about what they do, especially the good aspects. Being able to empathise and listen to colleagues properly was a big one for me. Understanding properly what inclusion meant was another.

    – What have you seen and felt when training or mentoring other playworkers?

    Seen: Amazing development, steep learning curves, hunger for knowledge. Felt: Joy, pride, pleasure, achievement, satisfaction, excitement, frustration, I was particularly inspired by playworkers from Gateshead who I trained who had more joy and enthusiasm in their group than I have ever seen in any other group of playworkers.

    1. Thank you so much for this Kelda – it’s really thoughtful and inspiring. I particularly love what you say about training and mentoring. If only every trainer felt that way! 🙂

  2. – What makes someone a playworker?
    For me .. I still dont think I have got there .. its a moment, its a passion, it comes from within .. and I think every “playworker” is different ..but need that core knoweldge around the importance of play

    – How did you start becoming a playworker? I was on a Pre school Playgroups Association ( showing my age!) foundation course when one of the other students told me that she had been asked by a friend to run a “playscheme” for the local college .. and she needed someone to help her.. so there it was . the start of a journey! We had a space, a few resources and lots of children! and an internal feeling that this was about them and what they wanted to do or not do, it was like one really big family all ages, all abilities …we learnt a lot!

    – When did you feel like a playworker? When I realised that it wasn’t about me .. I didnt have to do it .. that it wasnt about the end result it was about the childs journey ..

    – Is there such a thing as a “natural playworker”? OOOh erg …There are those for who the playworker role comes easier .. I dont know if that makes them a natural .. Actually some children are natural playworkers DO you think?

    – What are, in your experience, some of the landmarks of a playworker’s development? It is that moment of lightbulb stuff about the importance of play .. and how we have a duty to ensure that children have the time and space to play..
    – What have you seen and felt when training or mentoring other playworkers?

    The thrill and excitment of the passion that they have for play and playwork delivery ..But I think my biggest emotion was not with training playworkers who in the most “Have had their lightbulb moments” but in delivering to non play folk .. who during a session on play memories realised that children today dont neccesarily want what we had in the way of play, they just want the choice and opportunity to decide for themselves

    1. Thank you for this Jane – it’s really beautiful! I particularly love this line: “When did you feel like a playworker? When I realised that it wasn’t about me” and will definitely be quoting you! 🙂

  3. Hi Morgan

    The Processes of Becoming a Playworker: a Formative Blog Report on Semantic Study.

    🙂

    I would have gone for the old academics’ favourite myself (the old colon trick, as also highlighted to the assembled at the first Philosophy at Play conference!)

    In all seriousness though, yes, I can appreciate the thinking processes behind your workshop title.

    I’d like to answer your prompter questions in as succinct a manner as possible:

    – What makes someone a playworker?

    Love of this, consideration, in-tuneness.

    – How did you start becoming a playworker?

    By accident, like many of us, before becoming began; then by further accidents.

    – When did you feel like a playworker?

    Each day this felt special and more real than anything else.

    – Is there such a thing as a “natural playworker”?

    It’s possible: it’s in us, but we have to remember what’s important.

    – What are, in your experience, some of the landmarks of a playworker’s development?

    Realisation and acceptance of the immanence of play; beginning to understand what you’re seeing; learning to swim in the flow of ‘this is play’.

    – What have you seen and felt when training or mentoring other playworkers?

    I’ve seen resistance, non-comprehension, anger; some flashes of those who see that play is what it is. I’ve felt all manner of emotions, truthfully, but always that play is now and to be shouted for.

    Joel

    1. Thank you Joel – and CONGRATULATIONS on being shortlisted for the writing award! I’m assuming you’ll be at Eastbourne?

      I love what you say about swimming in the flow, and how varied the responses you’ve seen in others while your own truth remains consistent. Gorgeous! 🙂

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