I know that transformative learning…has taken a hold of my thinking, and my emotional and social processes as I find myself inquiring, questioning, and investigating each and every day, while my prior experiences and knowledge fold back on themselves and evolve each time, lending itself to the cyclical nature of reflexivity. I am excited to see where this course takes me!
Sara: Yeah. Well I just had my thinking friend meeting so I’ve got tons happening in my mind right now with lots of questions that have come up, like what a brilliant concept the whole idea of thinking friend is… Because it really helped me kind of…. think of it very differently…. She has no idea what my experience was; she just knew that it was a kind of negative experience.
Sara: And so she was able to ask questions that some of my friends might stay away from because they know it was more touchy…. She was able to get more real about it. It was really cool. But I think more than anything just more questions came up… Which naturally happens… in thinking. But I think I was realizing that although I was clinging to the unbiased and I was clinging to take that emotional step back to be able to look at kind of what happened from a very factual standpoint instead of a hurt and wounded standpoint. I wasn’t actually doing that as effectively as I thought I was.
Mentor: How could you [achieve that]?
Sara: Exactly. And so [she] said to me, “How do you make sure that you’re doing that? …What are some of the steps you can take in order to make sure that you are taking that unemotional standpoint? Is it possible? …That I’m looking at it factually and non-judgmentally and from both sides because obviously when you feel wounded or when you feel hurt you go, “Well, you did this to me,” you feel that way... What I am trying to get to is how did I also perpetuate the dynamic that was dysfunctional?
Sara: What I was able to identify is that talking about it really helps me; that hearing other experiences from other classmates who struggled during [their] practicum with mentor/teacher dynamics, that was very helpful for me. And also some kind of artistic expression is very helpful for me… [My exploration] may turn out to be a collage. It may turn out to be a painting on canvas.
Sara: It might be a number of sketches.
Sara: I think it’s going to turn into that because this week there’s so much in [my head] and the only way that I’m going to be able to get any kind of clearing from that is to go whoosh, [let it all out] on a canvas.
Mentor: Great… And maybe keep the odd journal notes so that you have those little touchstones for the point in time in which you were creating that piece of art. And have you thought of…who you might approach to be your second thinking friend?
Sara: Yeah... I’m someone who asks a lot of questions, and [intellectual] knowledge makes me feel very comfortable.... That’s why I always ask questions because then if a question means I don’t know something therefore I’m seeking an answer to know it. And I do that in every part of my life, which can be very annoying at times. But knowledge makes me feel comfortable, it makes me feel secure. And this experience made me feel really uncomfortable and very insecure and so that’s why this is a very great starting point.
Mentor: Absolutely it is. Yeah.
Sara: [It’s a place] for me to ferret out and turn the emotion into fact so that I can understand it. Does that make sense? Making that transition between emotionally it’s going like this in my head and in my heart, and feeling heavy and just ugh all the time because if I can’t put words to the emotion I can’t understand what happened or how I felt or why I felt a certain way when I did. But by investigating these certain questions about, you know, whatever; doing that will help me find and be able to put a more tangible understanding onto the emotional feeling of it… It’s making… that transition to have it be one understanding with an emotional response to a factual event; why, what happened, and how it’s meshing.
Mentor: This gives you a chance to process it. And those emotions are really important sources of knowing. We need time to process them and to translate them into language because we think with words or images. Images are very powerful too. I mean if you’re comfortable staying in the cyclical process and you’re okay with returning to it and going okay, here’s another cycle and now I’m going this way. That’s exactly what you should be doing.
Sara: Yeah. That’s what [another instructor] had said...at the very beginning of my practicum. “Are you comfortable in the chaos?” And I’ll always remember that. It makes sense. I am comfortable in the chaos and I know that’s transformative learning and I know that it’s the unbounded questions that help us process and help us understand….
Sara: Questions come from other questions and that is a process that is forever… But if I can get some kind of grasp on what happened [emotionally] for the last 10 weeks of my life I’d really like to know.
I began this inquiry process by focusing on the dynamics and relationships of others (perhaps a subconscious way of remaining impartial and ignoring the ‘felt’ experience of my own professional relationship). I realized along the way, how backwards this approach was – I needed to look at myself first, which then led to self-awareness of my seemingly separate identities within my professional relationship with my mentor teacher. This further led into investigating myself within relationships with others; 1+2=3