Thursday, April 9, 2009

Things to Do While Drinking Coffee #6

Live from the High Point Cafe, West Mt. Airy, State of Mild Post-Yoga Retreat Malaise

...one thing I’ve learned is that the professional therapy world is pretty weird...like, the way people come to essentially the same gig from so many directions...medical school for psychiatrists, different kinds of degree programs for psychologists and social workers, rabbinical school, divinity school, yoga teacher training, or just working one’s way through volunteer social service work...for the writing or poetry therapy angles often English or creative writing or theatre degrees...meaning, apparently, I’m already qualified....then, if the gig we’re talking about is simply listening to people with empathy and understanding, it’s probably an area where nobody truly has expertise, though we all do, to varying degrees....

if you realize you are not there, that means you are there
Chogyam Trungpa

...reading these books about using writing to work through trauma can be difficult...since it’s hard to stay objective in thinking about these write about your most traumatic experience kinds of exercises...I’ve written about that stuff, but probably not enough...ever fearing, perhaps, that death is in the details...

I chose poetry and the metaphor not for the love of mystery or elusiveness but because that comes closer to the way we experience things deep down. Explicitness and directness cannot be applied to our psychic life. They are not subtle enough.
Anais Nin

...one book I stopped reading took this incredibly dry, anal-retentive text-book approach to using poetry as therapy...I thought, jeezus, anybody who can write a book like this has no business using poetry for anything...then, at one point, my attention was caught by a bit on working with prisoners...until I read something like the purpose of working with prisoners is to teach them to conform to society’s norms...and thought that might be your purpose, buddy...

Won’t you recognize us? We’re everything you hate...
Lou Reed

...when I tutor recovering addicts in preparation for taking the GED, I don’t hide the fact that I think that the GED, like all other standardized tests, is awful...particularly in the case of interpretive questions...basically if you think too much about the passage or the questions...or, worse yet, use your imagination...think at all about the possibilities of meaning, rather than going for the easiest, essentially rote answer...you’re going to get it wrong...so I tell them: since these tests supposedly are about seeing how smart you are, you’d think they’d reward you for thinking about things, using your imagination or creativity, but in fact they punish you for that...nonetheless, as these tests are, unfortunately, important in our society at this time, it’s necessary to learn their rules...learn them, that is, while knowing that they’re stupid, and ultimately test very little other than one’s ability to follow rules....the important thing is to know what society’s norms are...learn how to use them rather than being used by them...

8 comments:

Kikolani said...

The last part, about the GED not allowing for creative thinking, is because most of the mainstream education system is about memorization. Memorize what the common interpretation is for this passage, and spit it back out on a standardized test. They don't want new interpretations. They don't want someone to think for themselves. They just want everyone to memorize what has been printed in textbooks for decades.

~ Kristi

earthtoholly said...

Yep, gotta tell the man what he wants to hear... That's great that you told them how it is with those tests. The last thing they need is something like that to make them doubt themselves.

It's cool, drjay, the kind of work you're doing.

Jeunelle Foster said...

I don't follow the masses, I don't follow the rules, I don't do as they say, I don't allow myself to be conditioned. I was told that I was always a very stubborn child and I pride myself on that because I know that my will is strong and I can think for myself and I don't have to run with the bulls. Capricorns can eat anything, just not what they gave us.

Drowsey Monkey said...

As I've often told my nephew, who can't seem to finish anything yet is one of the brightest people I know... getting a degree/diploma shows prospective employers that you can start something, stick with it, and finish it. Like it or not that's important if you want to be an independent person who can financially take care of themselves. Once that's complete feel free to explore all the other things life has to offer. I guess I think in a Maslow triangle kind of way.

Aggie said...

I hope it is satisfying work for you, even though the means are sometimes frustrating. Society always tends to choose the middle ground and I think we would all be surprised at how many folk do NOT fit that mould.

Lana Gramlich said...

I actually have a blog-friend who's a prison teacher & "to teach them to conform to society’s norms" is a far-flung dream, I can assure you.
Interesting thoughts here, regardless. How relative "normal" is, in reality...

Melinda said...

I hate standardized tests too--and in fact, I blame standardized tests for many of my early scholastic struggles.

I was bored with taking one of those 'fill in the dot' IQ tests when I was very young--so I stopped reading the questions. I filled out the dots to make a rather intricate sailboat, which not one teacher (or my parents) picked up on.

Well, because of that test, I was categorized and labeled "Slow" and was subsequently put in the "Slow Kids Class" which was not where I belonged . . . . but everyone was too wrapped up in their standardized test to realize they had it so. totally. wrong.

I love the fact that you work with those recovering addicts--that's so great that you do that. Service work keeps me sane. Somone told me a long time ago that when I get too wrapped up in myself that it makes for a very small package (I know you think that is a corny thing to say--but I told you I am sometimes a corny gal). I feel there is truth to that--when I get out of myself and help others, everything about the world is more positive.

Melinda

Lydia said...

I love that you tell these people the truth about the test. That's a real gift you're giving them, that alone, even without the tutoring that is icing on the cake.
I hate tests and do poorly on them. I didn't "get" how to take most of them until college.