Meeting New Situations

I have just completed teaching my first fundamentals class. It was a challenging time, but I learnt much each step of the way. I invited people carefully. All ten of the participants were people I knew and cherished from other wide-world activities. Each person had participated in several Co-Counselling sessions prior to the course, and each was required to agree to the confidentiality and no-socialising rules as well as commit to attending classes.

I was not as successful as I would have liked at getting a broad cross-section of people. Three of the ten were men, only one had a working-class background, and one was a young adult. (I look forward to drawing greater diversity next time.)

I adopted a position that the class was ready for powerful theory early on. I started immediately with the RC concept of reality and a bit later did demonstrations on the notion of contradiction. I prepared a glossary of RC terms with quotations taken from The List. My own grasp of theory progressed well from the background reading I did.

I had to face a variety of challenges, such as presenting the no-socialising rule in a setting in which all the people live in a small rural town and had at least "seen" each other somewhere before the class. I figured out that the no-socialising rule is also relevant to people who have met briefly prior to Co-Counselling - that a social relationship should not be deepened beyond what was there before.

There was some resistance to a conventional style of presenting theory, so I did some demonstrations of counselling on early memories of school and reduced the potential for restimulation by having lots of games and taking time myself to discharge in front of the group.

In class three, we had men's and women's groups. These brought solid discharge, but it proved difficult to reintegrate the two groups together. It seemed beneficial to people to experience separate gender groups, but I also needed to hold out the challenge of their claiming safety in the whole group.

I found the RC literature about teaching useful, especially the parts where other teachers and leaders shared their problems and challenges. I think we often avoid sharing about problems because we fear it may be rehearsing our distress, but it was very useful to me to read what problems had come up for other RC teachers and how they dealt with them.

It is not easy for me to lead in a relaxed way. I was raised owning-class and Jewish in Zimbabwe. I am apprehensive about acting out oppressor patterns when I lead. I am trusting that I can figure out how to take charge while remaining inclusive and relaxed. As contradictions to my chronics I did things like taking time to discharge in front of the class, asking questions ("What shall we do now?"), and encouraging participants to do coached counselling. The "Jewish Commitment" never left my side. It was like a faithful sheep dog. I also kept Co-Counselling. Having five or six sessions a week meant my attention for things was widening.

Basil Schur
Denmark, Western Australia, Australia

Last modified: 2017-05-06 23:35:41-07