Class #6 wasn’t pretty (although an argument for beauty could be made!)

It wasn’t all that ugly, either. 🙂 We made progress. Some boundaries collapsed – particularly near the end of the second fishbowl (ostensibly about “content” for the coursewiki), and they were certainly not reinstated during the third fishbowl (ostensibly about evaluating “process”). Ostensibly, I write, because the structure provided by the teacher was ignored. Not only did participants choose not to use questions from me, they refused and revised the task I had established!

Some time will pass before we get to observers’ reports; I had to be amused when one student teased about the rash of self-oriented behavior mere minutes (!) after I had abolished the Schein Team charged with observing self-oriented behavior (in favor of enhancing the observation of task and maintenance behavior and roles). Engagement was high. Observers violated the imaginary walls of the “fishbowl” to debate openly with the “fish” – and I participated (gasp!) in this minor meltdown of what little structure we have. I am not immune! There is one model of “consulting” about group relations that seeks to minimize participation of the “consultant” as much as possible; I am not living up to that ideal. Another model encourages interaction from the “facilitator” to guide and redirect individual’s focus away from others to their own behaviors (conscious and otherwise). Similar to the consultant model, the facilitator is supposed to keep their own participation minimal. I’m not doing that, either. I’m attempting a hybrid. My focus is still on the group-as-a-whole (consultant mode), yet the inevitability of my involvement (since I do have to evaluate their learning in order to assign grades) necessitates facilitation.

The frustration felt by most members of class was significant and obvious. (I hesitate to say everyone felt frustrated, but it is possible.) I expressed my own frustration in one particular direction (against the “discourse” that first gained prominence and hence seemed to presume inevitability)… it took me reading the results of Test Six to realize my attention was focused only on the most visible or obvious evidence of a deeper matter.

The results of the Test are extraordinary (I think). The first question asked students to evaluate the first fishbowl of the day (concerning After Dachau), regarding whether participants had sufficiently used the reading of an assigned course text to make progress towards defining the gist (heart, core, vital essence) of the ultimate group project.

If we’re going to rely on numbers, most students (15) did not think the fishbowl participants made “substantial progress” although a third of those present did think so (7). Strikingly, the numbers almost reverse for the following fishbowl (ostensibly concerning content), with 12 agreeing that there was evidence of time spent thinking about the gist, and the other half of the class split among disagreeing (only 4, overtly; two more conceding partial evidence; and 4 – ohmgod – admitting they had no idea what “gist” was being referred to).

No wonder I felt like pulling my hair out!

Note: the conclusion to this blogpost was written in consistency and consensus: mutually exclusive?