The postwar years in the UK saw the development of numerous artificial playgrounds intended to compensate children for increasing urbanization and a lack of wild places to play. Many of these sites employed playleaders, whose job was to use play to instill social behavioral norms on children, using games with rules and organized activities. From the early 1970s, that approach began to be replaced by playwork, a nondirective way of working. Playwork marked a rejection of the adult-focused practice of playleadership.
Playworkers relied more on an ambiance that reflected their own childhood freedoms and on the growing body of knowledge regarding the importance of play. This body of new literature suggested that play, unadulterated by societal objectives, was crucial to the successful development of all children; that play was not just good for exercise and social interaction, but was vital to brain growth and the child’s ability to adapt to a fast changing world.
Since those early days, playwork has mutated through a variety of guises, and over the years has begun to explore the child’s impact on space, the relationships between child and adult, what playworkers do, the therapeutic aspects of play, and has even taken faltering footsteps into the complexities of the quantum world. Aspects of Playwork reflects this awesome diversity of views and interpretation, moving from the historical to the almost sci-fi and from ghostly traces to the hard realities of being a child and working with children in the 2000s. Most of all, though, Aspects of Playwork is a commentary on the beauty and wonder of what play is and what it is to play.
Fraser Brown is the first professor of playwork in the UK, and teaches on the playwork degree at Leeds Beckett University. His publications include Play and Playwork: 101 Stories of Children Playing.
Bob Hughes has been a playworker since 1970. His publications include the classic text, Evolutionary Playwork.
List of Tables and Figures
Foreword, Jim Johnson
Introduction, Bob Hughes
Chapter 1: Three Reflective Tools for Playwork Practice, Sarah Wilson
Chapter 2: Nonsense, Caring and Everyday Hope: Rethinking the Value of Playwork, Wendy Russell
Chapter 3: The Neoliberalisation of Childhood and the Future of Playwork, Mike Wragg
Chapter 4: Where Do Playworkers Get the Knowledge that Informs the Responses They Make to Children?, Kelda Lyons
Chapter 5: Playwork in America: Past, Current and Future Trends, Michael Patte, with contributions from Alex Cote, Rusty Keeler, Suzanna Law and Morgan Leichter-Saxby
Chapter 6: Playwork and the Co-creation of Play Spaces: The Rhythms and Refrains of a Play Environment, Stuart Lester
Chapter 7: Therapeutic Playwork: Theory and Practice, Fraser Brown
Chapter 8: The Might of Play as Possibility and Power, Sylwyn Guilbaud
Chapter 9: The Land, Dave Bullough, Claire Pugh and Ben Tawil
Chapter 10: The Playground as Palimpsest, Joel Seath
Chapter 11: Adventure Playgrounds: A Brief History, Tony Chilton
Chapter 12: Hysterical About Playwork, Maxine Delorme
Chapter 13: Quantum of Playwork—Playful Rhetorics Relating to Sub-atomic Activity in Play Moments and a Playworker’s Responses, Bob Hughes