Jon Cree – Mill Woods, A Place for Play and Deep Learning
Late winter 2017 around the time of imbolc, as we emerged into the lengthening days, Jon Cree joined us in the woods to facilitate two training days on Story and Play Structures:
“My initial reticence of working with fairly large groups soon evaporated into the soil, with the rain, when I got to the site (I know that sounds a contradiction but illustrates well the circles in time we all experience through the seasons).
Greeted by the smiles and warmth of Marina and Mark, the fire, chestnuts, oaks, spruces, pines, willows, birches, great tits, green woodpeckers to name a few other citizens – of course.
This atmosphere made for opportunities to explore the magic and meaning in story and story-making as well as a purposeful place for trying out our hand-tool skills and engage the body in playful exploits that resulted in ladder climbing, rope swinging, strap line wobbling and the makings of a tree-house!
Armed with the elements of tension, hero journeys, tragedies, helpers and victories story is realised. The power of the imagination is truly infinite and seeing educators realise their potential to story a place and their own lives always enriches.
By giving permission to play with words, lie and offer some simple frameworks, our own storyteller can be realised…..but the thing, for me, that really provides stimulation is a safe place for experimentation and ‘play’, free of judgment, IS the natural world, and if a fire is present then all the better.
On that damp day in January our spirits were lifted by giants conjuring up rabbits and elfish boats and deep stirrings in the labyrinthine earth bound passages for the dark side to preside in….for moments we were spellbound then lifted by lighthearted fantastical creations!
A month later I approached the Play Structures day with an “irish being”, full of the Irish passion and blarney…giving me confidence to try the truckers hitch song to start the session – check it out.
Once again that playful permission gave me confidence to try something new and although the song didn’t quite work out how I wanted….it seemed to provide permission for folks to play.
With saws, axes, knives and ropes we made A frame ladders that turned into climbing frames…..all in a safe but experimental way (don’t worry all the tool procedures were in place and no limbs were lost!).
We made rope swings and bounced on rope courses thanks to the tensioning truckers knot, and learned the rudimentaries of tree house construction minimising any harm to the tree through the use of tree clamps.
The day ended by testing the sense of balance, that is always enhanced by the willingness to play.
If training isn’t about ‘playing’, mentally and physically, with ideas and constructs then I don’t know what it is about!
I will be back in 2018 – find out when here.”
By Jon Cree, Acting Treasurer, National and International Representation, The Forest School Association.
Story Telling with Jon Cree – 25th January 2018
Play & The Ludic Cycle with Jon Cree – 26th January 2018
Play Structures with Jon Cree – 26th & 27th February 2018
Please visit the website for full details.