Waving to each other

Oh, PhD!  So many things to read and think about.  It’s like a high-stakes book club of two.  It feels good to have my brain going again, chewing over the dense gristle of theory. Playwork is a small field but a fascinating one.  We are young, but profoundly idealistic.  Even though we are young, and even though we are small, we already draw on generations of fine and dedicated practice – the playworkers who have gone before. There have been waves of playworkers, even if they were sometimes known as ‘play leaders’, or ‘youth leaders’ instead.  They came in waves, first rising in the rubble of WW2 like phoenixes – Bertelsen, Lady Allen, and the rest.

Emdrup Adventure Playground
Emdrup AP (1943)

Then it seems there was a lull before the next wave, those young long-haireds and anarchists of the 1960s and ’70s.  Colin Ward, and likely a few readers of this site whom I won’t make blush by naming.  Then a lull again.

Notting Hill AP (1936) Photo Credit Donne Buck
Notting Hill Adventure Playground (1963)
Photo Credit: Donne Buck

Does it seem we’re in another wave today, its funding disemboweled but growing regardless?  Perhaps we thrive in the dark times, because I always see people my age and younger at UK conferences.  In the US I can attest that a tide is rising powerfully, and Pop-Ups receives emails from all around the world asking about play and playwork, asking about adventures.

The Land, Plas Madoc Adventure Playground (2011) Photo Credit Erin Davis
The Land, Plas Madoc Adventure Playground (2011)
Photo Credit: Erin Davis

This weekend it occurred to me that we might consider this playwork’s Third Wave. How have you seen the generations of playworkers relate, build upon each others work?  Do you feel a sense of continuity, of momentum, or of struggle within?  What concepts do you think have defined each generation of playworkers, and what might be the ones bubbling up today?


2 thoughts on “Waving to each other

  1. A lovely friend of mine, a playworker, an adventurer once said ( dont know whether it was his or if he had seen it somewhere else) anyway he said that Playworkers were like the tide, they bring a sense of wonderful loose bits or nothing along for a time and then take it away and swop it for something else. i love this, and so also agree with your waves of Playwork .. On another note, I feel very proud of those of you who continue to strive in an acadaemic world in the name of play .. Enjoy your PhD for all of us!

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