Extracting meaning from experiential learning

Extracting meaning from experiential learning

A staff member’s tale of two unfamiliar landscapes- Israel and a group relations conference.

A staff member’s tale of two unfamiliar landscapes- Israel and a group relations conference.

In February 2009 Juliet Scott visited Israel to attend a Group Relations conference- her visit took her to Tel Aviv, the shores of the Sea of Galilee and Jerusalem as well as through six days of intensive learning that gave her an insight not just into herself, but into a rich and complicated country and history.

On her return further to her extensive photographic diary she began writing about this experience trying to capture it using visual language and metaphor. This account developed and in November 2009 was presented at the Organisation for the Promotion of the Understanding of Society (OPUS) conference and in January of this year was published in the journal of the Israeli Association of the Study of Group and Organisational Process (OFEK) in a themed issue on gender.

The resulting paper holds its identity in being the point of view of an artist and a member of staff at the Tavistock Institute, and not a psychologist or a Group Relations practitioner. It includes visual images that provide another access point to some of its themes and is a visual narrative and representation of the first time experience of a Group Relations conference that took place in Israel through two unfamiliar landscapes- the conference and the country.

Drawing on literary, film and artistic references key themes of the paper are: i) the outsider’s experience and observance of being a women in Israel -women colluding with men; the female need for protection; men being disparaging of the female voice ii) the visual and the creative and how artistic works provide metaphor for the experiences of the conference referencing the work of Michel Angelo especially his late drawings of the crucifixion iii) the emergence of story and meaning from the group experience; the told and the untold.Through the narrative the teller touches upon some key theories relating to Group Relations practice and experience: object relations, the debunking of fantasical experience; how role and boundary give rise to so many possibilities of the self.

The paper can be downloaded here.

Juliet is the Business Development and External Relationship Manager at the Tavistock Institute and she is a former student of its Practitioner Certificate in Consulting and Change (P3C). Juliet can be contacted at j.scott@tavinstitute.org

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