I think it’s important that I share with you a time I failed on everything I have written about in the last 4 days. I decided to run a workshop on AJ Ning to work through Journal Fodder 365. It’s a great book. Powerful. the problem with it is that it’s art as healing. Though it has a strong art journaling base the journaling questions are deep and tough. It’s fine to work on the book on your own, maybe even with a therapist. It really helped me to clarify myself. I decided to work through the book with the group, but I started a month in advance. After 2 months I knew this book was too much for an online group. The questions were too deep for us to approach in an online forum.
Other people in the group concurred.
I loaded up links to online help and hotlines people in the US could call.
We kept it up for about 6 months before the workshop kind of quietly died.
Had I worked through the book before I started the workshop I never would have done the online workshop. The information is simply too deep and too much able to expose a raw nerve ending, leaving people in crisis. While I wasn’t prepared to be there for someone in crisis I am (and was) in a place in my life I am able to do so. That is also not a place I should have put people into. The work was too deep for the medium.
That is my failure- to not see this before I started. Leaping before I looked. It sucked that the group died out and that it was really too much for the online medium but it clarified tome why I had (and will) always do only technique based workshops online, the deep stuff doesn't translate well, SAFELY, in this medium.
Failure is part of the process. But it's what we do after we fail that changes us.
I've had the fortune to discuss this series with a number of online instructors. Two said that after review and reflection they either scaled back, scrapped or revamped some of their healing classes. Why? It didn't feel right for them to be offering stuff that went so deep as quickly as online allows us to go.
For us as instructors we have to examine our motivations as to why we offer a course. Is it to share a technique, to make a living, or for our own healing? These are questions instructors must ask ourselves, before a class ever comes to light. before we commit time to it's creation. Especially if we are going to consider offering something that is healing, deeply reflective, or therapeutic.
From a few of the FB message I got the feeling that some readers felt I might be writing these posts with a direction at one person. I think ti's really important that people understand that this isn't about an issue I've had with one particular person, this is about pervasive issues I've witnessed as online teaching of mixed media and the arts gain some ground. I see people throwing about terms like therapeutic as if it means the same thing as healing or spiritual healing. This is not a one person issue, this is a pervasive issue in mixed media and online teaching.
I fully believe that this conversation is needed for so many reasons. First, I think there need not be any shame associated with being online bullied or treated poorly in a class. Secondly when someone is unethical it should come to light, and will, eventually. Third, we need to talk about this, without conversation about bad behavior, and activities, shame will perpetuate and we'll never get rid of these things poisoning our community.
Next Installment, Part 5,
*notably absent from the discussion are those who do healing courses (with the exception of 2 people)