How to challenge our own attitudes

3.A.5. Working with the problem


After initially identifying the problem with which the group is to work, group members can hold an initial brainstorming session as to how the problem could be solved. It is important that the group members feel at ease when discussing such complex and challenging problems. The safe space provided within the confines of a small group, sheltered from public scrutiny, facilitates discussion.

The course tutor should refrain from proposing his/her own solutions to the problems, instead circulating from group to group and prompting discussion through the posing of questions. It is important that the members of the group listen to each other’s points of view and produce their own home-grown solution to the problem posed.

A “secretary” is appointed within each group to note down the main ideas generated by the group in the form of minutes which act as a written record of the sessions for all the group members. The minutes should be shared with all the group members who should be given the opportunity make additions and or revisions. The act of recording, organising, rereading and revising the group’s exchanges forces the participants to reflect further on their discussions.

It is helpful to use the problem as the central focus of a course or module to which participants return at the end of each input session and around which they share new insights and generate additional and alternative solutions. Sufficient time must be allocated for these discussions which constitute the space in which participants can negotiate, challenge and reassess their attitudes. Tutors need to resist the temptation to devote the entire session to input and allow time for the participants’ voices to make themselves heard.