Saturday, 22 February 2014

Hand crafted coffee and behaviourism

It is Saturday morning and I am currently embracing my morning off. No alarm, and the joy of drinking coffee in bed (well, two cups of Betty's cafe blend coffee made with soy milk to be exact). I think I am a very easy person to please. The simple things - driving with a beautiful view and good music being one of those things. Also flying, or being on the train (in peace I might add... an uncrowded form of transport is a necessity). Over the years as my life/work has gone in different directions I also have developed a great appreciation for spending time alone in a small (uncrowded) cafe with a beautifully crafted soy cappuccino, and either a good book, or some time spent writing. Either academic, personal, journal, blog, research. In essence, something of meaning or significance, but not always something that requires intellectual groundwork and justification. It has always been a 'home away from home'. I have never travelled to a city or country where I have been unable to locate one of these said small and welcoming cafes/coffee shops/bars. I have a terrible sense of direction but I have a wonderful eye for spotting these places. A good friend of mine says that I also have a good eye for spotting the 'coffee shop sofas'.. I think I do!

The last time I did this was last summer... So it feels almost like writing in the abstract now, because it has been so very long since this happened but I am certain I shall factor time for this into my life soon - it is about five/six weeks until the Easter break - there will be a significantly larger space in my diary for this.

Since deciding to become a private tutor at the start of this academic year, much of my time is spent preparing lessons and homework and recapping my own knowledge of psychology at a more conceptual and basic level. There is something about knowledge, sharing knowledge, and working with other human beings in a more grounded way that almost naturally implies that learning takes place - for both people involved. I am learning a great deal, even in being the 'teacher' role, I am still learning.

The focus at the moment is on research methods and behaviourism. There is something about behavioural psychology that has its place in informing our current knowledge base and practice, but it feels to me, very much one-dimensional on its own. Teaching it in its purist format does have a way of making me feel that I am preaching something I believe must be taught with more substance and open mindedness. But, nevertheless, placing our knowledge and practice in context, both historically and theoretically is always a useful (and necessary) thing. It is fortunate that my own learning in lectures this week moved on from behaviourism to constructivism, which is a concept that has always appealed to me but I don't know enough about to even think about beginning to define it for myself. What I do like about it though, is that it seems to be more about making meaning through experiential learning in a more unstructured way, and it emphasises language as a means of doing this. Part of why I think talking therapies help so much, and part of why I write so much is because I believe that language helps us construct our meaning. It seems to have roots in both cognitive and social psychology, but it also incorporates a way of thinking that acknowledges autonomy, subjectivity, and personal experience as being key.

Time to stop writing for now, and to gather my life together before leaving. I would usually be tutoring this morning but my student is away, so I only have a brief afternoon teaching research methods in Leeds. I am reading a very insightful book about relationships and ethics at the moment so I intend to use the train journey to my full advantage. Although I have a suspicion that the train journey to Leeds on a Saturday afternoon might not be quite as peaceful as I hope...

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