I made one of the biggest decisions of my life a little over 18 years ago. I'd spent four years studying Mechanical Engineering and a little over three years working at it. On the first day back at work after the Christmas break in January 2001 I decided, though, I'd had enough and made up my mind to quit. On the following morning I gave the letter to my boss and the rest, as they say, is history. I went on to work and study in the area of social care and now restorative practice and have never looked back. When I tell people the story, it usually gets a good reaction. People admire the bravery of the decision (as do I still it must be said) and many actually say they are thinking of doing something similar themselves (or wish they were brave enough to do so). But there's many ways of looking at a story and many lessons that can be learned from the multiple perspectives.
At another level, my decision to quit was also the result of an inability to seek help when I needed it. On the surface I was functioning as a quality control engineer and getting the job done (quality control is finding out why things break and putting in place solutions to ensure they don't break again), but I wasn't enjoying work. I wasn't learning new skills, wasn't seeing the bigger picture as regards my career and was carrying many of the problems I was dealing with home with me. So yeah, the decision to quit was inevitable you could say but, there was one other thing I wasn't doing - I wasn't asking for help. My boss, when he got the letter, was floored. Why hadn't I said something sooner, he asked. With the fullness of time, it was clearly the work of our new/old friend, Shame (a theme for many of the recent blogs, including one on Brexit, if you want to read back).
Shame is what stops us from asking for help or, when we do ask, doesn't allow us to be open enough in taking things on board (basically we can ask for the help as a tick box exercise, but don't really want to know about solutions). Lately a friend of mine asked me for help in dealing with his son's use of PS4 and Nintendo and God knows what other gadgets (surely another blog in that alone). Actually what he did was he gave out yards about his son and the screen time, but I understood it as asking for help. And what struck me was how unusual it was for him to even bring it up. Many of us never ask for help. At the risk of courting controversy, I suspect woman are, on average, better at asking for help than men. But I admired this guy for bringing it up and understood how it probably wasn't that easy to do so.
There are, of course, sometimes very good reasons in not looking for help. First and foremost, there's the possibility you won't get it. Your boss/friend/partner may not want to know, or may not know how to help. And it's easy to use one setback as an excuse not to do so again. The fact is however we all know plenty of people who would be more than willing to help in most circumstances. The proof of this is when someone asks us for help. We're made up. We get that good feeling from helping the other person, and we get the thanks/recognition from the other person directly. Basically, we love to help others. But, we then deprive others of that same feeling of reward, by not asking for help back.
So, this week, try to ask one person to help you with one thing you're struggling with. At a minimum you'll make them feel better, and there's every chance you'll get something too. (Tip: if you want them to just listen, tell them that's all you want. People love to know how it is they're meant to help. If you want advice, ask for advice. Some people hate giving advice when that might be the very thing you want.) It could make your classroom work a lot better, it could save you time/energy/heartache at whatever task you're at. It could even save you a career change.
That's Restorative Practice
My name is Joe Power and I am the RP development officer for Limerick. I thought I would write about my experiences in developing my own understanding of RP, as well as in trying to spread it across Limerick. The reason for this is that I find that both my own and other people's experiences are remarkably similar and there could well be some opportunity for other's to benefit from these thoughts (or ramblings!!). Anyway I hope you gain something from it.