Tag Archives: play

Scrappers Edge Freeplayers 6-5!

Babe Ruth

April 28. Day Two of season twenty-seven. 9:45am, Field #8, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights, Ohio? Drizzling.

Then a busload of 9-11 year old boys and their minders unload and inform us they have a permit for the hallowed field for this day.

We count our numbers and seems their are eight, and we will commence to practice the game of softball. We make our way over the the fenced in softball fields. Another team is practicing on the northwest diamond–no doubt for the opening week of league play–and Dave asks of them if they will engage us in a friendly game.


Later, with a light rain falling, a second inquiry is made and this other team agrees to a game. As it turns out, our spontaneous opponent is a co-ed team in the co-ed league. (We’d be co-ed too; alas…) They inform us in the league they are in the men bat on their ‘off batting side.’ However, for the purpose of what amounts to a scrimmage-type game, they decide not to do so.

We play four innings, and the line score looks like this at the end:

Scrappers score

What fun was had! After the game, the two teams collided in gratitude and high fives and hand shakes. We mentioned anybody is welcome to join us on Sunday mornings. We told the Scrappers,

We’ve been playing pick up games for decades here on Sunday mornings.

April 21. Opening day and we have eleven, then Pete shows up and we’re twelve. It was a crisp day. The metal bats could transfer quite a pointed zing at times.

[evp_embed_video url=”http://squareone-learning.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Matt-2013(1).mp4″]

Freeplay Softball league

Sunday mornings 9:30; game time 10:00am
Open to participants 16-116 years of age; any gender; any background

We try to keep an accurate score.

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Between Anarchy, Hierarchy, Bureacracy; and, the Minimus Link

Free Play Players

I spoke to the gang about arriving at the field on time. Offering how it would be neat to commence play close to the traditional ten o’clock time.

How about arriving in a timely fashion, or, agreeing to complete seven innings and go past the traditional noon ending time?

Could we collectively reclaim the principle of playing a full game? Is this year’s collective attenuation of the traditional ten-to-noon time slot a problem?

The Freeplay Sunday Softball league remains an experimental design in practice. The Drs. Kolb have theorized the game mightily, while I have only partially theorized it. And, different than the Kolb’s emphasis on the game-as-learning-space, I’ve had to approach it in terms of its explicit pragmatics, and approach it also as the alignment of these (to a degree) within the concrete action space–out of which game play is evoked every Sunday. It would be accurate also then to state I’ve had to approach it as a once-a-week problem of repeatable organizational development.

My conscious role is to capture the projective identification collectively commensurate with having the minimum authority to assist the initiation of the game. This is an obtuse way to describe the flow of leadership features being pushed upon me and pulled away from me, ending up predictably as enough of a leader to help instantiate the game. This role is connected to predicates, and the most substantial four are: the equipment is stored in the trunk of may car; I make out the line-ups and have done so for nine years; I voice the necessary commands to shift the players to the next step of the initiation of the game; and, I am a willing and sticky enough egoic character with respect to those aforementioned projections.

I was away from the game for four weeks and the requisite authorities were recreated and put upon replacement characters, and this was accomplished without fuss.

After I communicated my entreaty about arriving on time or playing seven innings, a miniature discussion ensued. Several persons stated the noon ending time would remain their ruling assumption; one person stated there wasn’t a problem anyway; two people reminded that we often play six or seven innings in less than ninety minutes. I ended by reminding the entire group that “I could do in the future the experiment of starting on time with whomever was here.”


One player came up to me and suggested, “You’re the boss so you can do what you want.”

Well, yes to a degree, and, ‘no’ to a much greater degree.

I understand my temporary authority has to most rigorously attend to the minimal set of verities. I am one of the principal stewards of those verities. They are marvelously concrete too. The essential one reflects the truth of: commencing the first pitch, batter, play of the game!

After the first pitch, under normal circumstances, my authority fades away, having fulfilled the slim portfolio of duties.

Interestingly, this is given by my privileged perspective–after all, I am one of only a tiny group of participants who have implemented an intentional [1] third order [2] viewpoint; am one of the few who reflect on the game and step back from it and theoreticize about it.

I’m not the boss. Theoretically, my role can be described as mediating the practical Object Relations within the holding field of the game’s ritual space. This way of putting it captures theoretical concerns. What then could be told of the practical way projection works in the matter of holding group concerns together so that group objectives may be predictably achieved every Sunday? It’s OD.

The actual phenomena is much more complicated. None of our group wants me to disrupt the internalized flow of predictable anticipation to bring to their attention a problem of so-called organizational development. The status quo is partly primitive. Don’t bother ‘it!’

Oh, what’s he on [us] about now?

Actually, I go into this, knowing I am in a better position, as against the group, to voice my individual concerns. Nobody had come up to me to ask me to advocate for more group sensitivity to the game’s temporal parameters. My prior experience has been that we may complete seven, eight, nine or more innings of free play softball should we commence the game around ten o’clock. My own view is that more play is better than less play.

However, here is the gist of our case of organizational development: whatever I deem optimal for myself is just so, for myself. Although I could approach this soft need as a group problem–and I did so–what I found out was that it wasn’t a group problem at all. I didn’t smoke out any alignment [3] with my concern at all.

[1] implication of intentional is a determined, directed, effort, rather than the more informal ‘folk-psychological’ and tacit efforts presumptively deployed by players in directing their own efforts to make operative sense of the softball activity when experienced as a meeting of different other minds, so-to-speak

[2] selecting apt analytic/interpretive frames (3rd order) having reflective experience of (2nd order) direct experience (1st order)

[3] a minimus link: given by supposing any need to use organizational development for the sake of obtaining new optimal goals do require maximal linkages.

Learning to Play, Playing to Learn: A Case Study of a Ludic Learning Space, Alice and David Kolb, The Journal of Organizational Change Management (2010)[pdf]

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Free Play Puddle League

Pete Swings

Pete “the body” lines up the pill. Pete, incidentally, is a lock for comeback player of this Free Play season, seeing as he’s recently acquired two bionic hips. Sunday was likely the latest we’ve ever enjoyed our first full complement of players. ighteen eventually rolled in and the contest ended up a roller coaster ride. We’re quite resourceful, and have been especially so in a season in which we’ve played four times with anywhere from ten to last week’s eighteen players, amidst four rain outs. Although players get to bat a bunch in five-on-five games, the sixth players adds the first baseman, and, the seventh adds a right fielder. So far one constant is the soggy field peppered with puddles.

Free Play Squad - May 28, 2011

Free Play Squad - May 28, 2011

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Spring Training Is Over

Matt batting at the end of last season.

[flashvideo file=http://squareone-learning.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/Freeplay-Jedimaster-Matt.flv /]

Matt speaking before the start of this season.

Freeplay Softball League and experiment

Sundays, 9:30am, Forest Hills Park, Cleveland Heights

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Rolling In

The Free Play Softball League gang. I took this picture right after our game last Sunday. It turned out to be a beautiful day, a well-played and close game. We obtained the modest goals of our 24 year-old tradition.

If you’re over 11 years of age and have a responsible adult along with you, you can play. If you’re a bit older, you can play. You can play if it’s the first time you ever held a bat in your hand. In this photo the range of ages describes a continuum of around 55 years. Hey, but several of our most grizzled players didn’t show up!

As I suggested to Dave Kolb, one of the founders of the game (and concept!) after the game, in reflecting upon how there were but four players at the field ten minutes before the 10am, yet, by 10:30 a full complement had rolled in,

Well, it’s an open system and that’s why it works out.

Dave and me both know this term, Open System, is the model of Harrison Owen.

Open Space Technology requires very few advance elements. There must be a clear and compelling theme, an interested and committed group, time and a place, and a leader. Detailed advance agendas, plans, and materials are not only un-needed, they are usually counterproductive.

The group must be interested and committed. Failing that, Open Space Technology will not work. The key ingredients for deep creative learning are real freedom and real responsibility. Freedom allows for exploration and experimentation, while responsibility insures that both will be pursued with rigor. Interest and commitment are the prerequisites for the responsible use of freedom. There is no way that we know of to force people to be interested and committed. That must be a precondition.

The leadership of an Open Space event is at once absurdly simple and very tricky. The simplicity derives from the fact that the group itself will, and must, generate its own leadership. The tricky part comes in letting that happen. The demands placed upon the initial group leader are therefore limited and critical. Dealing with the limited aspects of group leadership is easiest and may therefore be done first. The functions here are to set time, place, and theme.

The function of leadership is to provide a focal point for direction, and not to mandate and control a minute-by-minute plan of action. The details must be left to the troops, which means amongst other things, the troops must be trusted. In no case can any leader possibly solve all problems or direct all actions.

There are Four Principles and One Law which serve as guides to the leader and all participants. The principles are: Whoever comes is the right people. Whatever happens is the only thing that could have. Whenever it starts is the right time. When it is over, it is over.
[excerpts] Source: Brief User’s Guide to Open Space Technology

Our softball group obtains some of these features, but, then, Owens’s model is not geared to folding in competitive goals at all. So, our game approximates the value set of openness at the same time it integrates a variety of individualized values, some of which are in alignment with the closed system provided for by the implicit structure of a ‘sporting’ contest. Yet, what I will term ludic meta-values trump the seeming disjunction between the zero-sum of winning/losing, with, openness to “just showing up” and “just playing.”

One set of problems I’ve been making notes about, as a student of our game, concerns the distribution of equity. This has dovetailed with my reflections about my own role as a leader-the-game-has-evoked. As an agent of aspects of this distribution, (for example by making out the ad hoc lineups each week,) my intentionality with respect to the structure of each week’s game departs from the role specified by Owen. In noting this, I have also come to comprehend how those ludic meta-values are concretely mediated as a matter of the collaborative learning about the sense of the game.

This doesn’t mean the learning constitutes a normative principle, nor does it mean there is any particular procedure for this kind of collaboration, nor does it mean every player would identify its constructive factor. This does mean, as far as my current comprehension goes, that this sense of the game is robust, and is funded by experience of the collective implementation of the game’s generous system. In other words, what the players collaborate on is, in effect, throwing together an Open System every Sunday at or around 10am. From this is derived the multiple, not singular, sense of the game. And this happens non-explicitly, and, to large degree, as a fact of the constructive subconscious; (my term.)

The Free Play Softball League convenes its open system every Sunday at 10am, at Forest Hills Park-Cleveland Heights, on field #8. If you need to loosen up, or take a few batting practice swings, 9:45am is a good time to show up. But, it doesn’t matter, because you roll in anytime before we stop play at noon. See you there!

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Play Ethic

Head’s up to a very deep resource: Pat Kane’s The Play Ethic. Kane web site lists a ton of outward bound resources on play and experiential learning. On the Wikipedia page about him, it is written,

As co-director (with partner Indra Adnan) of the human potential consultancy New Integrity, Kane is developing a comprehensive “play audit” for organisations, institutions and enterprises, based on his research into the past, present and future of ludic culture.

He writes about his services.

To realise the power and potential of play for your organization/enterprise requires a range of learning experiences and techniques – one of which is certainly the experience of playing itself, in all its different modes (from physical to intellectual, from emotional to cultural).

This got me to imagining what one might do were one to execute an “exploration audit” of an organization. Hmmm. Beside, play, both an ethic and aesthetic I share with Pat, I’m interested in how groups, teams, organizations, intentionally deploy exploratory capabilities.

Play Ethic has an audio-video page.

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Main Squeeze

Susan, my wife of 16 months, and partner for 16 years, gave me another socko birthday card. With it, and, the good wishes via Facebook friends, my 55th birthday ends up the most celebrated anniversary in, perhaps, decades.

Thanks to all!

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from The Shifted Librarian.

Hot Books is a game designed to bring life back into libraries by forcing players to explore, discover and share the deserted and unexplored spaces that make up a library.

See also:

Jane McGonigal’s Avant-Game
Hot Books at NYPL

Sometime in the next month or so I will summarize the extraordinary seven installments of a workshop given earlier this year at Lakewood Public Library. Also, I will reconfigure the web resource from Lakewood’s web site, and attach it to the squareONE web site.

The series was initiated to prove the concept:

Transformative learning is an aspect of adult education and experiential learning. In the modern library the lack of formality, the encouragement of do-it-yourself investigation, and the breadth of library resources aptly fits with initiatives oriented around informal learning leveraged through active, experiential engagement in and with the library and its resources.

In the conventional sense of self-directed learning about a subject of interest, a library presents an array of resources a learner uses to investigate and learn about this subject.

However, when the subject is one’s self, the hallmark of learning is learning through which this “subject” activates a process of discovery and testing and change. Such initiatives are ultimately emancipatory, and expressly the goal of this type of learning is self-knowledge and advances in personal capability.

The concept was proved. (Hat tip to Alana, who attended every session, and also to Fred and Ken.) In fact, the series was a high point of my own game-making career. One of the neat realizations shared with participants, aggrandizing as it may be, was that our collaboration and innovative use of the library, had never happened in this way ever before in any library. We all were groundbreakers in experiential learning in the environs of the great Lakewood Public Library.

Rather than decide between cognitive, somatic and phenomenal modes of experiential learning, the conceptual underpinning of transformative learning utilized for the programs at Lakewood Public Library integrates the three modalities and terms this integration: Integrated Learning.*

Integrated diagram

Integrated learning joins experience of relatedness to features and phenomena of the world (including other persons,) plus one’s spontaneous perceptions plus reflective conceptualizations about these experiences. It’s aim can be a: test of learning; discovery of further possibilities for investigation; or insights powerful enough to cause transformative effects.

[Lakewood Public Library Transformative Learning Portal]

(* Integral Learning’s conceptual framework with respect to its cognitive aspect is closely related to the learning models of David A. Kolb, et.al., and Jack Mezirow. With respect to the phenomenal (world-situated) aspect it is indebted to the work of Paulo Freire. Whereas its somatic aspect emerges from a variety of models and theorization in the interdisciplinary realm of embodied learning, etc.)

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