Tuesday, November 08, 2005

The group felt tense this week, though I'm not sure if that stemmed from what the teacher had to do - covering the group contract and attempting to re-address issues - or whether it was the group having to go over it - knowing that what was being covered had come about because of our reflective logs.

There was anxiety over the distribution of the evidence criteria which didn't seem as if there could be anyway to be avoided. Whilst I, having spent no longer than one year out of some form of course - NVQ, diploma, degree - had no issue with what would be necessitated by the course, everyone suddenly became affeared by the requirements. One person admitted that they felt like running out because it seemed too much. It got me thinking upon the issues of change and how we often need to jump through hoops to fulfill criteria - as with proving our competence on the course - and I came to the conclusion that everybody has a determined set of natural and emotional barriers that are fashioned by the conditioning of their life - which usually has brought them from birth to who they presently are and what they feel that they can cope with.

This conditioning is a protective bubble, in which people feel safe with their environment and the people around them, allowing them to cope with a certain level of stress - as determined by their prior stresses. However, this conditioning is also a restrictive box that prevents people from seeing beyond their comfort zone. It insulates them often, I feel, making them ignorant of wider issues and often makes them selfish - as in preventing themselves from growing and learning. Specifically in the case of the marking criteria for the course, the group felt as if it were being put outside of the comfort zone. They were being pushed into a more "academic" area with the need to "catalogue" and "cross-reference". From my experience of having done this before, I acknowledge that there is some work involved, but no actual mental involvement and certainly nothing to get upset about. I also acknowledge that with external stresses upon each member of the group, from outside the class, it is small things such as the marking criteria that can push people, as they see it, too far outside of their comfort zone, and quite literally be the "last straw".

Perhaps, I should then make an offer to the class to assist any of them in their marking criteria as and when they require. Really, I should have been more proactive in allaying fears on monday.

During the discussion to re-address the issues of the group, I found that it was on the whole, despite ultimately being a draining experience - I was extremely tired by the time I reached home - an enjoyable process. Not only do I feel that this was going some way from our "storming" stage to our "norming stage", but I relished the sense of being part of a group who were discussing issues that affected us. Aside from with my wife, or on occasions with my parents, debate and discussions in which I can impart knowledge and learn are lacking in my life.

In school I hated debates, because I never trully felt comfortable enough to argue a point, stemming from both a lack of being able to construct a valid argument and always finding that somebody did really know better. That has stayed with me and more often than not I will listen, rather than speak, during a discussion. I suppose my consolation is that "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wiseman knows himself to be a fool." So, perhaps by listening to the viewpoints of others rather than asserting my own has made me a wiser person.

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