Grit is a charity organisation that delivers personal development programmes with young people and professional groups.
On Monday 6th November, 6 facilitators and 4 support staff from Grit met with 128 students from the Foundation Study Framework (FSF) at The Deco theatre in Northampton, supported by the FSF staff team. Students started a 3-day journey following a carefully designed course to challenge and unpick limiting thoughts and potentially disenabling internal conversations they have developed about themselves.
Via a series of scaffolded activities and interactions with peers and facilitators, students were supported to reflect on, understand and challenge existing thinking. With new space for alternative thinking, students were given the opportunity to consider the choices and possibilities about themselves and their potential to make transformations, and to contribute to themselves and others.
The programme approach and delivery presented a new and unique experience for most students. This also meant that it presented challenges. In line with other personal development programmes that untangle and ‘peel-back’ sources of thinking about ourselves, parts of the process felt uncomfortable for many students. By the end of day 2, there was an increased sense of shared understanding and mutual respect in the student groups. Powerful experiences were shared by students. Other students chose to withdraw from the process at this stage.
Students heard, ‘You are whole, and complete, without flaw’.
Students were invited to consider what their expectations are, where expectations might come from, and what happens when the reality does not meet expectations?
Who are you?
Some internal conversations shared…..
Challenging definitions, analysing the social construction of language and possibilities when we have a blank canvas, a different context.
Already Always Listening
Students were asked to consider the idea that they are already always listening to themselves. They listen to versions and interpretations of their world based on their experiences, expectations and internal conversations about themselves. They were invited to consider the notion that they, and others, rarely listen to listen. Students noticed their internal conversations and judged the extent to which these are ever-present in daily activities. Noticing limiting thoughts or internal conversations can help to challenge them. Definitions of who we are or who we are not can be tackled and changed. Students were encouraged to explore the concept that we are our word, we are what we do.
On the final day students focused on the difference between being committed and wanting. They pulled together the range of support systems available to them to reach their goals. On the final afternoon, the programme really ‘came together’ or ‘clicked’ for many students. They shared a sense of solidarity, resilience and achievement in their commitment to completing the programme. The programme had clearly impacted positively on many students. In the final sessions, many students chose to share their experiences of the 3 days and what it had meant to them.
Some selected quotes,
“I’m more comfortable about being myself. I’ve learnt that you have the same self-doubt about yourself that I have, because all you people have shared that with me. It is a strange feeling that I feel uncomfortable about being comfortable with who I am – because it’s the first time that’s happened for me.”
“I let what happened to me define me, but I didn’t realise I had let it define me, and now I know that it doesn’t define me’.
“I don’t normally talk to people, but I have here.”
“When I came here to this country, no one offered me anything or helped me. Now I am touched because it’s the first time someone has offered my anything.”
“The worthless, useless thing started from childhood and was built up. I never really spoke to myself and said, ‘You are not that’, but now I know I am not that.”
Those students who completed the programme will come together again for a follow-up and celebration in January 2018.
Foundation Study Framework Staff perspectives of Grit