A hard activity, but one I think is kind of necessary. I need to keep a little anonymity going here, and so I’m going to be intentionally very broad-stroked with what I’m thinking about, but the gist of it is, I’m having a hard time surfacing conflict in the dialogue group I have been facilitating this semester. Today I actually found myself stuck in a thoughtful spot, where I really wanted to hear more of what people had to say, but was unsure of how to prompt it.

I have a great deal of faith in the dialogic process, to tell the truth. Things are small-scale enough where I feel like I can affect change in people’s lives, but they are also large-scale in ideology so it feels like while we are simply working with a dozen other students we might be also impacting in some way the world in which we live by altering worldviews and bringing things to light that wouldn’t otherwise be talked about. Sometimes it gets sticky, and in fact, it should get sticky. So why isn’t my group going where they need to go?

I spent my evening mulling over what we are not confronting, or what we haven’t confronted in our dialogue sessions. Perhaps we have not confronted ourselves thoroughly enough. I think that the session where we told our personal stories yielded somewhat superficial, brief results. I don’t think too many of the participants really thought beyond a certain layer of analysis about the questions we had asked them; I don’t think the investment was made that makes this kind of activity worthwhile. I am worried that a lot of this is turning into hand-wavey hippie shit instead of hard-hitting dialogue work as a result.

A recurring theme in our debrief today was that we need to start being honest with each other. I kind of wonder if that kind of thing starts by being honest with ourselves. I ran by an audacious act with my co-facilitator, which involves my wearing my keffiyah into a room of predominantly Christians and Jews — as an atheist. We’re strongly considering using it as a segue into our discussion of religion in politics — because I do take a pro-Palestine line and it would be interesting to see where that kind of behavior takes the group.

Maybe doing something a little more button-pushing is my way of stepping up to the plate as a facilitator. Today I did my best to model the kind of thing we’d like to see from our participants; I’m not sure if anybody is ready to follow that model. This could be an interesting experiment.

(Also, it has been brought to my attention that people actually read this blog. Sorry about that.)

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