Colin Ward (14 August 1924 – 11 February 2010)[1] was a British anarchist writer and editor. He has been called "one of the greatest anarchist thinkers of the past half century, and a pioneering social historian."[2]

Colin Ward
Ward in his workroom, 2003
Born(1924-08-14)14 August 1924
Died11 February 2010(2010-02-11) (aged 85)
  • Writer
  • Editor
Notable workAnarchy in Action (1973)
Harriet Unwin
(m. 1966)
PartnerVera Balfour (died 1963)

Life edit

Ward was born in Wanstead, Essex, to Arnold and Ruby Ward (née West). Arnold was a teacher and Ruby a clerical worker.[3]: 19  His parents were active Labour Party supporters. Ward attended Ilford County High School, leaving school aged 15. After leaving school he worked as an assistant to a builder, then for West Ham Council, before working as a draughtsman at Sidney Caulfield's architectural practice.[3]: 22–23 

In 1942, aged 18, Ward was conscripted into the army as a sapper, going on to work as a draughtsman in the Royal Engineers.[3]: 30  Based in Glasgow during the war, Ward began attending Glasgow Anarchist Group events. As a soldier he subscribed to the anti-militarist anarchist newspaper War Commentary, and in 1945 Ward was called as a witness for the prosecution in the trial of the paper's editors, John Hewetson, Vernon Richards and Philip Sansom.[1][4] Shortly after the trial he was transferred to Orkney.[3]: 40 

After being demobbed in 1946 he returned to working for Sidney Caulfield and began contributing to Freedom Press.[1][3]: 72  In 1947 he began editing the anarchist newspaper Freedom successor to War Commentary. He remained an editor of Freedom until 1960. He was the founder and editor of the monthly anarchist journal Anarchy from 1961 to 1970.[5]

Until 1961, Ward worked as an architect's assistant. In 1964 undertook teacher training at Garnett College where he met his future wife, Harriet Unwin, and he subsequently began teaching at Wandsworth Technical College.[3]: 166 

In 1971, he became the Education Officer for the Town and Country Planning Association. He published widely on education, architecture and town planning. His most influential book was The Child in the City (1978), about children's street culture. From 1995 to 1996, Ward was Centennial Professor of Housing and Social Policy at the London School of Economics.[6] In 2001, Ward was made an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy at Anglia Ruskin University.[7]

Thought edit

Anarchism edit

Ward's philosophy aimed at removing authoritarian forms of social organisation and replacing them with self-managed, non-hierarchical forms. This is based upon the principle that, as Ward put it, "in small face-to-face groups, the bureaucratising and hierarchical tendencies inherent in organisations have least opportunity to develop".[8]

Anarchism for Ward is "a description of a mode of human organization, rooted in the experience of everyday life, which operates side by side with, and in spite of, the dominant authoritarian trends of our society".[9] In contrast to many anarchist philosophers and practitioners, Ward holds that "anarchism in all its guises is an assertion of human dignity and responsibility. It is not a programme for political change but an act of social self-determination".[10]

Education edit

Colin Ward in his main theoretical publication Anarchy in Action (1973) in a chapter called "Schools No Longer" "discusses the genealogy of education and schooling, in particular examining the writings of Everett Reimer and Ivan Illich, and the beliefs of anarchist educator Paul Goodman. Many of Colin’s writings in the 1970s, in particular Streetwork: The Exploding School (1973, with Anthony Fyson), focused on learning practices and spaces outside of the school building. In introducing Streetwork, Ward writes, "[this] is a book about ideas: ideas of the environment as the educational resource, ideas of the enquiring school, the school without walls...”. In the same year, Ward contributed to Education Without Schools (edited by Peter Buckman) discussing 'the role of the state'. He argued that "one significant role of the state in the national education systems of the world is to perpetuate social and economic injustice"".[11]

In The Child in the City (1978), and later The Child in the Country (1988), Ward "examined the everyday spaces of young people’s lives and how they can negotiate and re-articulate the various environments they inhabit. In his earlier text, the more famous of the two, Colin Ward explores the creativity and uniqueness of children and how they cultivate 'the art of making the city work'. He argued that through play, appropriation and imagination, children can counter adult-based intentions and interpretations of the built environment. His later text, The Child in the Country, inspired a number of social scientists, notably geographer Chris Philo (1992), to call for more attention to be paid to young people as a 'hidden' and marginalised group in society."[11]

Bibliography edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Ken Worpole, "Colin Ward", The Guardian, 22 February 2010. Retrieved 20 February 2022
  2. ^ Krznaric, Roman (27 February 2010). "Colin Ward – an obituary and appreciation of the chuckling anarchist". Archived from the original on 21 September 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Scott-Brown, Sophie (2023). Colin Ward and the Art of Everyday Anarchy. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781003100409. ISBN 978-0-367-56753-8. S2CID 248956242.
  4. ^ Honeywell, Carissa (2015). "Anarchism and the British Warfare State: The Prosecution of the War Commentary Anarchists, 1945". International Review of Social History. 60 (2): 257–284. doi:10.1017/S0020859015000188. ISSN 0020-8590. JSTOR 26394787. S2CID 151669269.
  5. ^ "Anglia Ruskin University". Archived from the original on 28 July 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  6. ^ "The Times & The Sunday Times". The Times.
  7. ^ "Anglia Ruskin University, profile". Archived from the original on 28 July 2008. Retrieved 13 July 2008.
  8. ^ « in small face-to-face groups, the bureaucratising and hierarchical tendencies inherent in organisations have least opportunity to develop », Colin Ward, Anarchism as a Theory of Organization, 1966.
  9. ^ Colin Ward, Anarchism as a Theory of Organization, Freedom Press, London, 1988, p. 14
  10. ^ Colin Ward, Anarchism as a Theory of Organization, Freedom Press, London, 1988, p. 143
  11. ^ a b Mills, S. (2010) 'Colin Ward: The ‘Gentle’ Anarchist and Informal Education’ at the encyclopaedia of informal education.

Further reading edit

External links edit