plā′wėrk′ings, n. Portions of play matters consideration; draft formations.

Moments of magnitude: on reflection of the worn self

The playworker in me sets as her benchmark her extraordinary playhood. She informs herself, using theory observation and practice, about why that playhood was effective or not, and she uses her body/sensory memories of that playing to be a sort of ghostly play mate to the children she observes.

Penny Wilson (2011)
The smallest moments are the greatest moments of all. Yet, if we do not know this to be true, how can we comprehend the actions of the Universe at play when they happen?

This gambit offers up two contentions instantly, I’m aware: that of the notion of ‘truth’ and that of the mysticality of belief in such a thing as a Universe. In the first instance, can there ever be such a thing as absolute non-subjective truth? In the second instance, use of the indefinite article articulates the possibility of a steering towards personification: a god of sorts, one who engages with, rather than some amorphous swill we are arbitrarily a part of.

Notwithstanding this philosophical aside, and in no way intending to perpetuate allusions to a theological reference to ‘God’, it is my contention that, firstly, truth is based on belief, and secondly that the Universe, as thing-in-itself, is — in its concomitant nature, its inalienable predilection — predisposed to play. It is in this that I believe.

On a fine day, on a slow walk, look up into the tree tops. Listen. Here, the Universe is. If we do not look, we will not see (Seath, 2011).

Regarding my work with children, I have been party — on countless occasions — to moments of great smallness. Recently, I was being shown around a school by a head teacher. We passed through a room, where children were being given extra-curricular ICT support, and into a small outdoor space. To any terrestrial observer, I merely caught the eye of a child, about the age of seven, as I passed. However, it was the look she gave me, no more than a second or so in length, that added to my bank of conscious collective moments on such thinking. These moments, as I write and reflect, seem to me to be no mere terrestrial than the locus of the Universe that plays the tree tops. This is in the analogy, not intended to be a revelation planted squarely in the realm of visitations or the like!

In the moment, I’m reminded to re-read an article on a similar footing. Grinmore (2009) expounds on the notion of some children as ‘scintillators’. He writes:

‘[Scintillators] are beyond neuro-typicality. My belief is that what we see is not a component part of [autism] spectrum disorder but rather a new emotionally transcendent type of human.’

Yet, to be seen, the adult is required to be able to see. It is in the writerly notion of a ‘ghostly play mate’ (Wilson, 2011), an essence of sense memory, in which my imagination is captured at this stage of thinking. How is it that we see? Of course, this is not an allusion to our optical engineering; do we see by way of sense memory? In dream, it never ceases to amaze me that the ‘ghost’ of a dreamed-of can actually physically touch and be felt. In reality, do we wear this ghost-action that is able to ‘touch’, connect, see, be seen? We wear our sense memory as if it were a dream on us: we often do not know it’s there. What if we were to be conscious of it? What if, in its lucid use, we are able to reach out and ‘touch out’ to those emotionally transcendent others?

Grinmore (ibid) also writes:

‘These children have very highly developed emotional antennae. They are deeply sensitive to others’ emotional states and can respond accordingly.’

What is the validity in spending time writing on such a seemingly terrestrial, and pedestrian, notion as one person briefly catching the attention of another? Truth and belief are intertwined, and a Universe plays through tree tops as it does through those with a discerning eye.

‘Playworkers need to be seen as people who possess special skills and knowledge.’ (Stonehouse, 2011).

Perhaps they already are seen as such, in some quarters. However, children do not necessarily have such names and titles that we, in the adult sphere, use; many children don’t need them: without fail, when I’’m in a supermarket, anywhere, this greatness of a smallness in interaction will take place, in some form or another — these children have no knowledge of the word ‘playworker’ here. On buses and trains, in this country and in other countries, this happens. Is this a by-product of my professional inquisition, or is this another interplay in action altogether?

‘[These children] have and value knowledge that is centred on the notion of what we might properly call wisdom.’ (Grinmore, ibid).

Grinmore, I know who you are! I see you. I believe it was you, in your other guise, who observed and told me once – in words other than these — about this adult’’s connection with a certain child at play. Wisdom can be caught! What you believe is true.


Grinmore, H. (2009), Scintillators. iP-Dip Magazine [print] Issue 14 (December 2009). Eastbourne: Playwork Development and Training CIC.

Seath, J. D. R. (2011), A philosophical inquiry into engagement with connectivity in the fabric plane of play [online]. Available from: (Accessed May 6, 2011)

Stonehouse, D. (2011), Why higher education is vital for playworkers and the future of playwork. iP-Dip Weekly Issue 45 [online]. Available from: (Accessed May 6, 2011)

Wilson, P. (2011), The toll road: a Kentish playhood.  iP-Dip Weekly Issue 45 [online]. Available from: (Accessed May 6, 2011)
Joel D. R. Seath
May 2011


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