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Evan Gardner and Willem Larsen interview each other regarding a visit to Kent Siebold’s “Theories of Knowledge” class at Cleveland High School, in Portland, Oregon.

1. Technique “Too Cool for School

  • Kent has been the host of the monthly WAYK nights at his large, rambling, 100 year old house.
  • They went to Kent’s class to run WAYK experiments dealing with the maximum number of players.
  • They ran an experiment by leading with a “language hunting” demonstration, that failed terribly. The words for “what is that?” in Vietnamese seem to sound exactly like “that is a pen!”.

2. Technique “the Lotus

  • They wanted to see how many people we could accommodate in “the lotus“.

3. Technique “Lunatic Fringe

  • They initially had an inert, uninvolved “lunatic fringe“.

4. Techniques “Full“, “Limit“, “Sorry, Charlie

  • So much of WAYK is designed to teach players self-awareness and self-care.
  • Playing WAYK must be voluntary. You can’t force fun.

5. Technique “Pooh Corner

  • They innovated a technique, over lunch, to address the issue of “freedom of choice”.
  • Evan credits a friend of his, a third-grade teacher, for originating this idea.

6. Technique “Set-up

  • They forgot the special WAYK table for the first game, and the game suffered because of it.

7. Technique “Take Care of the Inner Circle

  • They further innovated a way to engage the “lunatic fringe” even more.

8. Technique “Great Job Lunatic Fringe!

  • Another technique Evan applied to keep the “lunatic fringe” engaged.

9. Technique “Pooh Corner

  • Players who called “full” and retreated to “pooh corner” still rubber-necked to see the game, and even “copy-catted“!

10. Technique “How far did you get?

  • We got to “want/have/give/take/trade/steal“, and “if, then, but, and, for“.

11. Technique “Language Hunt

  • Evan (as Grandpa) and Willem (as the language hunter) role-played a “language hunt“.

12. Technique “Hunting Pack

  • Willem then turned around, and “pushed” the language he learned from Grandpa Evan into the rest of the group, like a real “language hunting” team.
  • Willem was sincerely happy when at the end, he finally heard a student say, “oh my god, you’re blowing my mind!”.

13. Technique “How Fascinating!

  • One player kept calling “how fascinating!” at random points in the game, perhaps mischievously, but all it did was increase the energy and fun of the game.

14. Technique “Craig’s List

  • A player, unprompted, asked for a new word in a “craig’s list“. This really surprised Evan and Willem; it usually takes a while for WAYK players to begin using this technique on their own.

15. Techniques “What is that?“, “Make me say yes…“, “Make me say no…

  • Willem credits Dustin Rivers for making “make me say yes…” and “make me say no…” benchmarks for game play.

16. Technique “No pressure refresher

  • One of the students invented a contract sign for this technique. Exciting!

17. Technique “Mumble

  • The student players really latched on to this technique.

Written by Evan Gardner


Jay Bazuzi

Since the table + table cloth is so important, I think it deserves a technique name and some more detailed description.

I was just listening to the old interview with Evan from a year ago. He talked about teaching sign to 100+ people, refining the techniques as he went. It seems like you guys had the same experience in the school, improving with each of the 4 sessions.

I think there’s an important point here about different ways to do WAYK in different situations. Every game is different (some more than others). Perhaps it’s the mark more skilled WAYK leader that they can quickly discern the needs of the situation and adapt to it.

Willem, I think you and I have similar feelings about school. We homeschool because I don’t want my kids to have those harmful experiences. Sometimes, when homeschooling is really hard, we think about giving school a try, but then I remember what school is really like, and find new energy for homeschooling.



I definitely see WAYK as responding to challenges in an environment by innovating and applying techniques. This is why I described it to you on the google group as the combination of a “fringe science” and a martial-art. The techniques are empty and stale without the curious mind that keeps looking for new applications, and new depths.

You can play WAYK as a canned game, certainly, but jeez. I’ll let someone else have fun with that. The beauty for me is in the art and science of technique. Letting every game change you and make you grow.

Yes, “technique table-cloth” is definitely worth coining, maybe more cleverly. There is probably an exact dimension to the table that is ideal, but I couldn’t tell you what it is; I mostly go on my intuitive sense of “obviously!”.

Regarding school; my goal with WAYK is to share it with as many home/un-schoolers as possible to make it even more absurdly obvious that harnessing community genius is a far more powerful force for learning and teaching than institutional schooling.

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