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Bernie DeKoven's FunLog

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Game and Play Leader's Handbook: Facilitating Fun and Positive Interaction

If you look hard enough on Amazon.com, you'll find my review of Game and Play Leader's Handbook: Facilitating Fun and Positive Interaction by Bill Michaelis and John O'Connell. Today, for some as yet unexplained reason - oh, yes, I was talking with Bill on the phone the other day - I find myself once again marveling at the accomplishment contained within the covers of this unassuming publication.

Here's the review I wrote on Amazon (slightly edited, now that I have the chance):

Bill and John are personal friends of mine. I've known them since the 70s when John and Burton and I were co-leading the New Games Foundation. Bill has been teaching recreation at San Francisco State and stayed with it despite lack of funding and recognition for-just-about-ever. So anything I have to say about this book is probably suspect.

On the other hand, I REALLY like this book. In my 30 years of exploring newer games and deeper fun, I haven't found any book that could actually portray New Games leadership as comprehensively and compassionately.

It is, of course, about more than leading games. It is about leadership itself, and a startlingly revolutionary model for the kind of leadership that truly serves the people being led.

It's true that New Games are still being taught in elementary school physical education classes, in the States, Canada, and Europe. And it's a testimony to their power and value that they've survived more than 30 years after their introduction. But, for the most part, they have become a small component of a curriculum that is overwhelmingly focused more on perfomance than on play. Yes, their value is recognized, but their message has become lost. There is an art to leading a New Game. An art that is ultimately empowering and freeing and joyful. An art that is wonderfully and concisely captured in Bill and John's book. An art that, but for this book, has largely been forgotten.

In many ways, the Game and Play Leader's Handbook is a companion volume to my Well-Played Game. Where my book describes a philosophy of life based on play, John and Bill's book describes how to implement it in classroom, gym and playground.

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