Colin Ward (14 August 1924 – 11 February 2010) 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."
In 1942, aged 18, Ward was conscripted into the army as a sapper, going on to work as a draughtsman in the Royal Engineers.: 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. Shortly after the trial he was transferred to Orkney.: 40
After being demobbed in 1946 he returned to working for Sidney Caulfield and began contributing to Freedom Press.: 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.
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". 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".
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"".
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."
Bradshaw, Ross; Ward, Ben; Ward, Harriet; Worpole, Ken, eds. (2011). Remembering Colin Ward: 1924-2010. Nottingham: Five Leaves Publications. ISBN978-1-907869-28-0. OCLC707825526.
Crouch, David (2017). "Lived Spaces of Anarchy: Colin Ward's Social Anarchy in Action". In Ferretti, Federico; Torre, Gerónimo Barrera de la; Ince, Anthony; Toro, Francisco (eds.). Historical Geographies of Anarchism: Early Critical Geographers and Present-Day Scientific Challenges. Routledge. pp. 153–164. ISBN978-1-315-30753-4.