The Peer Work Cert IV I’m studying at the moment has been a very mixed bag. We’ve had a number of different teachers/facilitators come through the course, and their skill and passion for adult education has varied significantly. Many of us students have already been working as Peer Workers, or in the Community sector for many years, so the bent of the teaching is pitched far too low for us. We spend a lot of time being told things we already know. This shouldn’t be a big deal as most of us are also really friendly and patient people. Without exception all of the speakers that have been invited in have been great to listen to. When it’s worked really well there’s been some great conversations between the students, and we’ve all been treated as resources for each other and encouraged to learn from each other. I’ve loved spending time with other people who are really passionate about mental health and peer work, and there are some amazing experiences and skills in our class. When it’s worked badly we’ve been taught inaccurate information, patronised, and treated as though our experiences and skills are a threat to the class instead of an asset.
Pilot programs always have teething troubles so I hope that the quality of the course delivery will improve if it is offered again. There’s been some tough days for me where some areas I’m feeling pretty raw in have not been handled well and I’ve found it quite distressing.
This Thursday was just back to the tedium of repetition and inane craft activities. We spent several hours having the concept of Peer Work once again explained to us in depth, what it is and how it can be useful for people. This makes for a very long day! The afternoon was spent with the facilitator reading a powerpoint to us that explained how to make presentations interesting and engaging – oh the irony!
We were required to do a craft activity which was recommended as a tool to use when engaging participants who were so unwell that conversation was difficult. We had to draw a cat on a piece of paper, the cat was called the Fantasticat. Then, we had to write things we had gained from our lived experience on other bits of paper and glue them onto the cat’s tummy. The things we have learned are, you see, things we are Fantastic-at. The class is not exactly enthusiastic about these activities (we have done a lot of craft in this course, and most of it is depressingly similar to the craft we did the week before), which unfortunately instead of resulting in the activity being modified to make it more interesting or suitable, got us a lecture about being open minded and aware that many people we would be working with were going to be extremely ill and need this kind of directed activity. If anyone ever catches me bullying a participant into this kind of thing, put me out to pasture immediately.
Anyway, here is my lovely cat:
It turns out I make good art under duress. 😉 I’m rather proud of him.