Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crossed the line

I am attending a mediation training to become a community mediator. Something I want to do simply because it will add value to my profile and of course I can use some of the knowledge in my current job.

The instructor of this program is a vivacious, energetic, gregarious and loud woman who is quite passionate about mediation and what she does. She is very direct, forthright and says whatever comes to her mind, speaks and then thinks, so to speak. And she has no qualms about using foul language. Every other sentence has a slur and f*** is being used as if it going out of fashion. When some of us questioned her about it, she told us that she is giving us a ‘dose of reality’ and helping us prepare for the inevitable. As community mediators we will be exposed to all types of conflicts (parent-teen, gay’s, roommates, neighbors etc.) and majority of these folks whose conflict we will be mediating, will use foul and vulgar language. After all, when someone is angry, frustrated, threatened, disgusted, is all ready to beat the crap out of the other person, who cares about their p’s and q’s right? Well, makes sense but only to a certain extent. It is OK to use foul language when you are role playing a conflict or giving an example of a conflict. But to use it that frequently as part of a training which also includes kids as young as 14 (yes, we have school going kids who are attending to earn extra school credits) doesn’t quite make any sense.

I have accepted it and am OK with it after much thought (there are graver issues to worry about than this now) but there are other participants who aren’t. Some of them have been vocal about it but every time they bring it up, they are told that they are being desensitized.

Anyway, it has been a long training. We have one more weekend to go before we are done. But just to give you a better understanding of what I am writing about, here’s what happened at the last training. We were all asked to wear a T-shirt that would be inappropriate to wear during a mediation session. Everyone came wearing shirts with comments, logos or pictures that were not quite appropriate and can send out a wrong message or signal to others. We had to wear the T-shirt and show it off to the group by doing a ramp walk (just like a fashion show!)

Well, the ones that got the most laughs and of course from the kids were a shirt worn by a guy that had a picture of a Daschund on it and the caption said “My wiener does tricks” and the second one was the instructor’s shirt that had a picture of a headless guy and in bold, big letters the caption read, “Need head?”. The minute she opened her jacket and revealed her shirt, the reaction of the group was as expected, divided. The kids, of course got cheap thrills out of it and the adults in the room, well most of them, gasped!

The kids obviously aren’t bemused by all of this because they are all quite precocious and aware of most of what is being said and talked about. And nowadays stuff like this is very common in schools. It is the parents who are having a difficult time accepting the reason and the justification.
I am a trainer myself and I admire the fortitude, tenacity and energy this instructor has. I can be quite nonchalant about things and you will have to move mountains to scandalize me. But I do think she crossed the line with this one.


iz said...

I'm with you on this one. I would be extremely uncomfortable with a trainer like this. Bad language OK. The T-shirt thing-sounds wierd.

Thinking Cramps said...

How strange. But I am really curious to know more about this sort of work. Sounds very interesting. Tell us more.