Letters to the Editor

This page is available for readers to throw brickbats or bouquets, to sound off on any subject that has provoked their ire or promoted their admiration, and generally to share with the rest of us.  

There is no shortage of space!

From Mike Baynes, London SW15

I've just read through your Groups articles in the latest NP issue, and the only spot that I disagreed with was that encounter groups  had leaders who were more experienced in leadership;  Rogers specifically defended student encounter groups which were led by inexperienced leaders, reminding readers that there was considerable protection from rank and file group members who would intervene readily if the leader didn't, or if the leader himself went too far.  

But that's nitpicking, based upon my 25 year old recollection of Rogers' 'Encounter Groups'.   

David Jacques was a name I remembered.  It was fun, too, reading all those other names - I remember attending a workshop with Lippett [a great big fat man], in the early 70's.

June 29, 2003

From Mark Edwards, Bedford

Dear Editor

The article by Steve Potter on the social history of the T-group could have been written yesterday. When I was a headteacher I found the most difficult aspect of school development was changing entrenched attitudes of staff. I took the view that the best way forward was through personal development via groupwork; however the increasing political interference in schools by the Government put paid to any plans I had about developing an autonomous school. Any staff time we had was swallowed up with organising the literacy and numeracy hours; what made it even more difficult was that the LEA embraced this new autocracy with apparent relish and bombarded us with additional documents of their own. 

It is this civil servant mentality that pervades the public sector and makes radical growth impossible. The powerful forces keeping nothing happening are present in the offices of the Department for Education and in every County Hall throughout the country. Mr Potter refers to the emerging radicalism of the middle classes in the 1950s: the CND marchers of the 60s and 80s (of which I was one) are now totally disillusioned. We fought hard to get a Labour Government into power and now feel a deep sense of betrayal. What is left for us to do? 

The alternative therapies are mushrooming and many disillusioned teachers and NHS workers are setting up as self-employed therapists or consultants. Having worked recently in mainstream mental health I can testify to Steve Potters  statement regarding the poverty of values and methods in mainstream mental health and welfare. It is appalling and letters to MPs and local councillors are met with the usual meaningless and complacent spin. 

It will be interesting to see what happens as the alternative sector expands alongside the growing UK underclass which is so poorly served by the public sector. It may be that the expansion reaches a point where it can replace the unwieldy monstrosity we call the public sector, but I somehow doubt it. The system has a way of absorbing innovative practice and turning it into yet another variation on standard practice. It reminds of a 1950s film called The Blob in which a jelly like mass swallowed everything in its path, growing ever larger (and encumbered) in the process. 

Oh well. Im off to the West Country to continue my counselling training. Having exited stage left, Ill carry on watching the performance from the wings. 

And reading Nurturing Potential of course!

Mark4ed@aol.com - August 24, 2003