The sound of silence: socialisation in and at play

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This weekend, the North Shore Football Association in Sydney is promoting a weekend of silence on the sidelines “to raise awareness of respect on the field for players and referees”.

At the Braidwood Recreation Ground this morning, the Under 5s’ play was delightfully silent.

Each Saturday, over 100 children take part in the sessions organised by Palerang United. Our family has been inducted into sideline support as a result of our two grandchildren joining the fun.

What has been fascinating about the Under 5s has been the connection between parents and grandparents as they edge their children and grandchildren towards relative autonomy. So far all four weeks of the season have involved children and their carers all taking part.

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Everyone is there as a social act. The process fascinates me as I think back to my reading of sociological texts and my discovery of the concepts of socialisation and the social construction of reality.

My naive hope is that the Palerang United induction for all of us should make a lifetime of silence and respect possible. This requires us to nurture the play spirit evident in those who are just starting to engage with football as players, coaches, parents, grandparents and referees.

This morning, the Under 5s ventured into some very basic directional game play. The teams attacked either goal and were delighted to score at whichever end of the pitch they were. It was wonderful to hear laughter on a cold morning at the Rec as the sidelines broke their silence.

The morning gave me an opportunity to reflect on Will Richardson’s sharing of Frank Smith’s view of classic learning:

We learn from people around us with whom we identify. We can’t help learning from them, and we learn without knowing that we are learning…Just about all the important knowledge we have about our personal worlds, and the skills we have developed to navigate through these worlds are a direct result of learning in the classic way.

This, to me, is the essence of socialisation in and at play and the respectful silence of a community sharing a set of cultural practices for a lifetime of play.

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