The Power of Paradigms

Yesterday afternoon the group explored the power of paradigms, these are the things which are inside you that give you your values and beliefs. But, they aren’t fixed and, with work, can be built up or broken down.

Steve explains...
Steve explains…

What do you see – different perspectives

The afternoon started with the participants being split into two groups on either side of the room. Each group in turn was asked to close their eyes and was shown two different images, one of a young woman turning away and the other of an old woman looking down. After this both groups were shown one image which combined the two original images.

The groups were asked to say what they saw in the final image and each identified it as more strongly linked to what the had seen in the first two images. This was a demonstration of how your first perception can influence what you then go on to see in the future.

The Shaggy Saga – putting yourself within other people’s paradigms

To start thinking about how you can consider paradigms of others that they may not necessarily agree with the group were asked to form the defence teams in a court case roleplay.

(The Pathways to Youth Work team have asked me to mention that they don’t condone Shaggy’s behaviour or the video!)

The case was based on the song and video It Wasn’t Me by Shaggy and the participants were split into three groups; one to defend Shaggy’s position, one to defend the girl next door and another to prosecute on behalf of Mrs Shaggy.

Shaggy's Defence
Shaggy’s Defence

The groups were each given a set of paradigms which they had to work within in order to form their arguments to defend their position. This presented challenges for the participants as the paradigms they were given were sometimes in conflict with their own.

Once the groups had formed their arguments they then presented them back to the rest of the participants and there was an opportunity to ask questions. Following the presentations there was a moment for reflection and discussion focused on the considerations which need to be given in a youth work setting to think about young people’s paradigms – which sometimes may different from your own.

The table – building up positives and breaking down negatives

Steve spoke to the participants about thinking about their own paradigms as a table with legs which can support them. For every paradigm that you hold there will be things which you believe that support and confirm it as true.

With paradigms you see as positives it is possible to reinforce them by adding more legs to the table, strengthening your belief in it as being true. It is also possible to break down the negatives by removing legs, thinking about each belief and chipping away at the beliefs behind it.

Marley looks for the fly
Marley looks for the fly

The f’ing fly – perceptions

Buzz drew the afternoon session to a close with a two short exercises to get the participants to think about perceptions.

First he asked Jon and Erica to separately read a short phrase and count the number of F’s in it. Both of them came up with different answers and then the phase was shown to the whole group – who also gave different answers. Buzz explained that there were six F’s in the phrase and that this was designed to get people thinking about language and the way things sound as opposed to how they are written.

After that he showed a series of black shapes – a space invader, a desk and the top of a totem pole. The group all saw the shapes but then he asked if they could see the fly. Initially the participants struggled to see the fly however Buzz eventually pointed out that the black shapes were the gaps around the word ‘FLY’ written in white. He explained that traditionally people are trained to recognise writing in black rather than in white and that is why it is difficult to instantly recognise the word.


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