A group of psychologists prepare to re-enact the formation of the Grand Canyon.
NOVEMBER / A high school in Arizona
Back in the classroom after lunch, I can relax. The TA for the period is using one of the computers. I set my coffee on the desk and dig through a pile of papers and magazines set to one side. I strike intellectual gold, American style: a set of exercises designed by psychologists to “support” togetherness among staff and students.
THE PLAYPEN- Establish the boundaries of a playpen large enough to accommodate the group members, and allow group members to interact as babies and toddlers in the playpen. Establish the rules of no slapping, or biting, or hurting the other children. Let the interaction flow. SHARE.
NONVERBAL SHARING- Have the group stand in a circle. Each member, one at a time, non-verbally transmits a feelings message to each member of the group. SHARE. Option: May be done with eyes opened or closed.
HAND EXAMINATION: Instruct two people to non-verbally (!) examine each other’s hands. Ask them to to decide which one will “examine” first, and to allow at least 3 minutes to touch and look, before instructing the other partner to be the examiner. Ask each to verbally share the experience and specifically what they were able to discover about the partner. SHARE.
GROWING OLD- Ask two people to pretend they are very old. Insert cotton balls in their ears, dim the lights, and ask them to converse with each other. Give them a topic, eg, “Discuss what is going on in your life.” SHARE.
By this time I’m snickering and kicking the desk, and the TA looks my way. I ignore her because it just gets better:
RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE- Enact a situation which symbolizes a religious truth or teaching. Establish the time, place, circumstance and people and allow the action to flow. EXAMPLES: 1. Moses receiving the 10 C’s from God. 2. Jesus healing the sick 3. Embody the spirit of Bhudda 4. Be your God. SHARE
SCIENTIFIC PERSPECTIVE- Present an enactment which best describes a scientific or physical phenomenon. Allow the action to flow. EXAMPLES 1. Portray parts of the body (legs, liver, heart, eyes and explain the structure, functions and relationships to one another. (Let each person link with others and speak as anatomical parts.) 2. Portray Copernicus trying to tell 16th C people that the sun, not the earth is at the center of the solar system. 3. Embody a seed in the ground and act out the growth process. 4. Enact how sandstone is formed.
I’m pounding the desk and snorting, but wait, there’s more! 5. Create vital organs linked to one another and ask one member to be a drop of blood circulating through the system. Ask the drop of blood to non-verbally (!) interact with organs to establish their function with the drop of blood. 6. Show the formation of the Grand Canyon. SHARE
My hysterical laughter unnerves the TA; I apologize for disrupting her computer game and continue to pound the desk while screeching. Outside the building the sunlight suddenly withdraws, and a group of short football players in squash yellow jerseys and brown pants fades against the gravel practice field. Heavy gray clouds loom between the oleanders which border the building and the low roof overhang outside.
Empires eventually disintegrate, but the American Empire will be the first to be taken down by psychologists and not a barbarian horde.