Monday, 24 October 2011

On the Facilitation of the Utilisation of Bullshit


I was offered a great bargain on a peace-building (or conflict transformation, as they call it) course and leapt at it. Today was day 1 of the 5-day course, and these are my initial, unprocessed thoughts. I'm tired, grumpy and a bit disappointed, which will likely colour my assessment.

First, it was certainly professional enough. I've had far, far worse. The venue's nice (not their fault the weather's so shitty hot), the manager took interest in my vegan needs (though someone fucked up communicating that there'd be me and 2 vegetarians, so it was dumb luck that lunch was edible), and the course materials are all decent quality.

What annoys me, more than anything, is how incredibly dull it's been. I'd been a bit fearful, expecting something really challenging and well out of what I'm used to (I haven't formally studied anything like this in 5 years, nor worked in it), with towering intellectuals mocking my inexperience as they passed around concepts that I could barely identify. Instead, it's been piss easy. The other participants are all bright enough, and mostly more experienced than me - almost all are from other African countries, where conflict is more real and pressing - but I get the impression that nobody's taken it as seriously as me, and that a few even view it as some sort of holiday. And the two main lecturers, or whatever the term is, the only speakers we had today, frankly aren't up to my standards. When I asked challenging questions, rather than opening things up for discussion, they were more eager to railroad us back onto their prepared lesson. There were scheduling problems, and I blame it on the wanky time-wasting activities they gave us in place of serious teaching. Badly communicated activities too, so that half of us didn't actually get what they wanted from us. It's all a bit baby-level.

I'm hoping, though, that this was just the first day intro crap. Tomorrow, we're getting a real professor (head of my old Politics department, though he only arrived after I'd left, so I've never met him) and then a tour of the Apartheid Museum, which should at least be more interesting. Then I'm GMing my regular weekly WFRP game immediately after that, so I hope the heat doesn't kill me.

I'll report in again at the end of the week. I hope it's good news.