Monday, 22 October 2012

Radio silence

It's been over a week since my last post as a combination of personal illness, my father's milestone birthday celebrations, and a crisis of confidence all combined to leave me drained and incapable of rational thought! However, I seem to be getting back on track today so I decided to post about thoughts and feelings I've had over the last 8 days.

I've been reading Reader 2 and finding that it has led me on to delving further into the topics it discusses and the authors it suggests. I did start to tackle Task 2c but I felt that, with all the information I had jostling around in my head, that I needed time to absorb, reflect, realise and relate it all within my subconscious, where I have noticed that I seem to do a lot of my reflection, and just make note of any thoughts or inspiration in my journal. I think that this way of working will, ultimately, give me a better understanding of the concepts of reflective learning, and where I fit into them, than launching straight into a written piece.

I started my journal back in September and have already noticed that my entries are becoming less factual lists - "what I did at school today" - and more personal and emotional outpourings about the experiences I have had. I have also realised that I place a lot of value on the emotional, or interpersonal (Gardner, 1985), aspects of my job and that I tend to not write about the positives and focus on the negatives or problematic aspects of my day. I've been reflecting on this and have come to think that I consider positives as 'just doing my job properly' and the negatives and problems that I encounter as a lack of knowledge/ understanding/ planning/ foresight on my part. I have consciously decided to enter up at least one positive experience into each journal entry and reflect on the why's and how's in a more inquiry-based process to see where this takes me...

Whether or not it is related to writing my journal, or not feeling particularly well, but my crisis of confidence at the beginning of the week was incredibly debilitating! I found that I was unable to make immediate sense of a lot of the things that I was reading and, in the resulting confusion, I lost all sense of being able to cope and began to feel that perhaps this was all a big mistake. It took over completely for about 3 days until three things helped me to gain perspective again and move forwards.
The first thing was a Facebook "chat" with a very good friend of mine, who is currently doing a PhD, who I really respect and look up to. She was very helpful by telling me that she felt/ feels that way sometimes and immediately the feeling that I am not alone, or stupid, or missing the point eased my anxiety.
Secondly, I was intrigued by the section on Twyla Tharp in the Reader, as I have been aware of her as a dance choreographer for many years but had never heard her speak or read her books. I immediately went to google books to search for The Creative Habit (Tharp and Reiter, 2006) and found YouTube clips of her talking about her professional practice. Her matter of fact speech really made me look inwardly at what I was feeling, and I made two entries into my journal in capitals:

"...let's just get ready and not expect that we know where we're going..."  (Conversations with Norma Kamali - Twyla Tharp, 5.56mins)
"No-one starts a creative endeavour without a certain amount of fear; the key is to learn how to keep free-floating fears from paralyzing you before you've begun. When I feel that sense of dread, I try make it as specific as possible. Let me tell you my five big fears:
  1. People will laugh at me
  2. Someone has done it before
  3. I will have nothing to say
  4. I will upset someone I love
  5. Once executed , the idea will never be as good as it is in my mind
These are mighty demons but they are hardly unique to me. You probably share some."(Tharp and Reiter, 2006 p.22)

The realisation that I was not on my own in feeling like this coupled with the support of friends and the knowledge that even people I deem as successful struggle with "demons" has helped me to reflect on my fears and put into action a plan to deal with them. I know I am not going to resolve them entirely but even that realisation is empowering. As Donald Schon says, in his book Educating the Reflective Practitioner, a student "must temporarily abandon much that he already values...In such a predicament he is more or less vulnerable to anxiety." (Schon, 1985 p.94-95).

I hadn't intended to put any of this in a public forum but, as part of my action-plan, I think that sharing it is a good way to rationalise and work through it. Thank-you for reading it.

With any luck, normal programming will resume shortly!


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