The Think of It (in it) 2

| November 8, 2012

There are three kinds of people. The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of us have to piss on the electric fence for ourselves

(with a big nod to Will Rogers)

The first workshop on Canadian soil happened two days after I arrived in a time zone seven hours behind me. By day three of my arrival I was living betwixt two disparate zones. This first workshop happened across four connected but each with a distinct identity.

The first two-days were with a group of researchers/academics/practitioners/social workers who are involved in using theatre as a force to address health related issues on the reservations and in tandem with the tribal council around Fort Qu’Appelle.  The second two-days were with young people from a high school, mostly from the Peepeekisis, and looked at the issue of Bullying.

At the end of day one with the young people, the leading group me to process our work on the first day, see what might work best on day two and think about what the young people had fed us.  One thing was clear. The issue of bullying had been decided upon by an organisation and was not necessarily the theme the young people might want to explore. We had 75% of a small High School present ranging from Year 8 to Year 12 and the seemed to get on as well as any group of 30 odd teenagers might. Was bullying an issue or was that, like so much else, being foisted upon them?

We decided to open up the day by asking them that question. As it happened most of them were happier looking at good relations and how they emerge AND there was substantial real interest in still looking at bullying. We set up various work stations – collage, puppets, drama, writing, documenting – for them to explore their themes. We played games to warm up and we started on our explorations.

Now each day of each workshop is a book of postures, gestures, realisations, expressions and transformation. Simple transformation such as newspaper to puppet to more internal transformations such as a young man who is sullen, shy and pretty much silent for two days delivering to a closing circle of over 30 peers and adults a small spoken essay on the multi-dimensional aspects of the collage he has created about relationships. Kapow!

At the end of those two days the participants were glowing. One of the practitioners asked the question: How do you measure glow?

(I am writing this with a grumpy cold laced a long way from home and want to say that I am not drawn to the words practitioner or facilitator. Yes they are descriptive but they do not reflect how I feel about it. When I lead a workshop, I do a whole heap of the things and facilitation is one. I like the word story. I guide the story trails within the workshop. That is my art.  I am a workshop artist and I feel hopeless sometimes in the face of all this fluffy terminology. Atchoo!)

Here I am, just remembering a few moments of glow within my field of perception within the story of this workshop.

On the afternoon of the second day, the youth worker and the Elder were helping a small group of teenagers and their puppets on a “Puppet Guide to Good Relationship.” I noticed that they were getting a little stuck. I went over and told a little tale that illustrated three ways to learn: being told something, being shown something and learning through experience. I told them about Ivan Illich’s aphorism, “most what we learn is not taught”, and shown them a couple of things with the puppets and all the while I could see the face of this world- weathered Elder with his eagle cane that he carved himself and it slowly lit up into a broad grin of recognition. I watched a light go on. I have no idea what he was thinking and I do not want to know and I certainly do not want to prove it to anybody else. This is what was evident. His face changed and remained lighter right through to his final prayer at the end of that closing circle. He too glowed. That’s enough.

Category: Blog, Canadian Blog

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Director of School of Workshop

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  1. el capitano says:

    “Everyone knows” is the invocation of the cliché and the beginning of the banalization of experience, and it’s the solemnity and the sense of authority that people have in voicing the cliché that is so insufferable. What we know is that, in an unclichéd way, nobody knows anything. You can’t know anything. The things you know you don’t know. Intention? Motive? Consequence? Meaning? All that we don’t know is astonishing. Even more astonishing is all that passes for knowing.
    Roth 208-9 The Human Stain