For the last week or so I’ve been working on a group project for one of my courses on adult program planning. Each group was to immerse themselves in a specific planning model and then plan and conduct a 50 to 75 minute class. We would receive a group mark for this assignment.
My group was a team, no one else wanted to tackle Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Freire developed his pedagogy through literacy work with peasants in Brazil. His participatory action research (observing and participating) was designed to transform perceptions of reality through dialogue, and in the process liberate both the oppressed and the oppressor.
If you’ve ever done a group project before, you’ll know how tough it can be when different agendas and personalities collide. Even with only one other person, this was a challenging undertaking. We had very different working styles and worldviews. In Myers-Briggs language, my partner was a “P” and I was a “J” – meaning she likes to leave everything open-ended, I like to close things off, finish up, tick it off the list already! Did I mention I had another assignment due the day before?
There were several moments when I wanted to give up. Run. Tell our professor that it would be better if we plan our own separate programs. I am sure it was the same for my partner. But neither of us did run. We stayed. We compromised. We negotiated. We hung in. We found common ground. We discovered we were both meditators, which may have helped us gain some detachment from our own agenda. I realized part way through the process that this assignment had almost nothing to do with the content, and almost everything to do with the process.
Sure it’s nice when everything is harmonious in group work, but somehow I feel prouder of this accomplishment because we worked through the tension points and produced a program that we were both happy with; a uniquely beautiful result that could not have been realized by only one of us.
A big thank you to my teammate for the wonderful, fertile Freirian experience!