So I just got home from the Arts and Activism conference, where I attend a 4 hour youth development workshop. On the whole it was quite educational, and the tools presented regarding youth development outcomes are going to prove useful. I was also pleased to see the BYAEP frameworks so thoroughly examined. I wish more community arts students were present, as I'd love to discuss the event.
I do, however have some critiques of the day. I'm mainly doing this not to change the event in the future but rather for my own practice and reflection.
At the end of the session, we were divided up into small groups and asked to apply the outcomes and the BYAEP framework to the process of a youth based film making project. It was the first time that we had group conversations about real, concrete examples of activities that would facilitate these possible outcomes, and the only time we saw but one example. And we were just getting into the good, nitty gritty stuff of conversation about these activities when the exercise was over. Personally, I felt that the time spent on some other activities was not useful. I know I tend to be the grumpy dwarf about some sorts of activities (i.e. scarf dancing, etc.) as an administrator, but in a professional development setting, I'd rather get down to studying useful, applicable examples than inventing a movement that expresses myself. I know, too that many of you will disagree with this, but perhaps if the day were longer we could have fit everything in. In the end, I did not get enough time to discuss real world applications that utilize the concepts we were learning.
Another thing that really bothered me today, and something I have noticed at other points since I've begun this program, is a lack of professionalism. I'm not saying we all aren't professionals, but I noticed some behaviors and some instances that speak to this.
There were several times during the day that individuals were talking over someone else, perhaps in the corner in private conversation, or in the circle as a prior exercise wrapped up. If we are going to be generous of our time and attention, we must also respect other's time and attention. This sort of thing would never fly in a business meeting. I do understand that the nature of artistic work can be self indulgent and that freedom of expression is encouraged. But this isn't a romper room- we all have goals for what we want to accomplish for the day.
Another instance is being respectful of the assignment/directions given during an activity. For example, the facilitators asked for a response from each person around the circle of a word or a few words, but soon enough people were talking for minutes at a time about themselves without any real point or direction. I am not trying to detract from the fact that people in the group had much to reflect upon, and it's great that everyone was buzzing with ideas and appreciation, but spilling your innermost feelings as you have them was not the given task. I think sometimes in this work we forget to apply our "is this useful towards the goals of the session?" filter. In class when we are in a nurturing environment there is more room for the babbling process of self reflection, but in a limited time frame it can be frustrating. Perhaps this is a critique on both sides of the relationship here: the facilitators need to intervene when time constraints are not being respected, and the participants need to respect that there will be avenues to express their reflections, and those avenues need to be made available to them after the event or at a different time.
Ugh: crying. I might be unpopular in this opinion (and please comment if you disagree) but I don't think crying is appropriate in these sorts of gatherings. If we want our work to be taken seriously, we need to encourage ways of expressing that you have been moved in ways that are not only professional but useful to the group. Crying does not effectively illustrate to me how you are going to use this new information in ways that will carry the work forward.
I think there were many excellent things that came out of the session today, but there was a part of me that was looking for a more pragmatic experience.
I realize I've put a lot of negatives in this post. The positives are getting their OWN POST! because they are so special. Grumpy dwarf is done, for this episode.