Thursday, December 17, 2009

Sensitivity Training or Group Dynamics

Anyone who has followed some of the virulent arguments and criticims by bloggers with regard to the national education system, the racial and religious issues, the quota system, the Constitutional rights of the Malays vs other citizens, the biases of the Press etc., may well benefit from a brief review of the history of the US. Why US?Don't forget that the Americans are also multi-ethnic in origin and have gone through some very painful experience before emerging as one of the strongest and richest nations on this planet.

I want to highlight only a few phases of the American history which have some relevance to us in Malaysia. First the early emigrants fought many wars against the British colonialist. Don't forget that the early Malay settlers fought the British too and became dead ducks under the British guns and cannons.Birch was murdered and many Malay freedom-fighters were hanged.

You all know how the Frontier Americans dealt with the native settlers-the Red Indians.

The Malay Union scheme could have a placed the Malays in Reservation areas under their Chiefs - the Sultans.Fortunately the Malay leaders together with the Chinese and Indians fought hard against the MU, and sought Independence. After gaining Independece from the British, the American fought among themselves - the Civil War between North and South over the slave issue which killed hundreds of thousand. We had the May 13 incident -nothing compared to a civil war but red Malaysian blood of all races did flow.

The color divide among Americans persisted until today. The Black Americans and those from Asian and other origins, suffered
some forms of discrimination well into the 21st Century. The Office of Equal Opportunity was set ut to deal with the problems and Cross-cultural, Sensitivity and T-Groups training programs came into vogue in Universities, Government Agencies and Private Sector organizations. Differences in culture, values and social norms were dealt with for years in schools, colleges, centers of higher learnings and in the work environment.

The Cross-cultural, Sensitivity, T-Group or Group Dynamics approach to learning dominates all forms of training as compared to the Teacher-Student straight lecture type of training
traditionally used. Role playing where students switched role: Black becomes White and rich becomes poor, Chicano becomes American etc allows one to feel how others view, evaluate and treat us, thus learning to be in the other person's shoe.

It is with all these background experiece and acculturation process that Americans today have accepted a colored man, Barrack Obama- as a President.

Question: Have we Malaysians done enough of this cross-cultural, sharing experience and values, switching roles and seeing as-others-see-us kind of training and conditioning to be eable to cope amicably with the onslought of modern values and realities of life? Aren't we all still living in the safety zone of our cultural shell and evaluating others in terms of how they would endanger our shell instead of realizing that we all live in the same shell. A lot of sensitivity and T-group sessions must be held at all educational and work level to let Malaysians of one racial group appreciate the sensitivity of the other groups and learn to cope with the problems of solving problems together.

Perhaps the politicians must be put through such sessions to let them absorb the prinsiples of disagreeing without disrespecting, arguing without calling each other "stupid' or 'racist', debating without throwing obscene or insulting reamarks at each other. Unless some form of formal or informal conditioning through these sensitivity group sessions are experienced by all leaders and would-be leaders of the Malaysian society, the racial and religious tensions building up in the country cannot be effectively managed and dissipated to produce positiive input for development.

The BTN, the National Service training. classes in schools, colleges and universities, all private sector oraganizations and government agencies should begin to adopt the T-Group, Sensitivity or Group Dynamics approach to training and incorporte its elements in the traditional classroom types of teaching. People cannot be forced to feel one way or another although you can force them to learn certain things Feelings can only be developed through the sharing of experience, interests and values
under a suitable learning or working environment. Malaysians must use the tested approach used by Americans, with suitable adjustments of course, to achieve what they have achieved. Todate our education system is still stuck on the classroom straight lecture approach to education with some innovations that fall short of the T-Group, Sensitivity or Gruop Dynamics approach.


rambomadonna said...

I have to agree that we have to try living other people's life to understand its value, culture and significance. Living in cross-cultural family my whole life and experienced sometimes painful, hard, prejudice or unfair treatment makes me work hard to be in my position and shaped my own identity.

I also agree that we often either "mengagungkan" or condemn America as the world superpower but for them to get there, the Americans also endured many death, hardship and pain to get "there".

Opppss ... why am I thinking too much again? Norzah, why long silence and tiba2 blog about sensitivity?

norzah said...

I've been reading all the anti-govt blogs and Utusan Malaysia which is charged as racialis, to seek the hidden cause for irrational outbursts. The common factor that I see is a lack of empathy, sensititvity for the feelings of others, a lack of capabaility (or willingness) to put oneself in the other person's shoe. If Malaysians have these skills, the goal of 1 Malaysia would be easier to achieve.

BTW I'm a trained Group Dynamics facilitator. But our Universities and training institutions don't seem to believe in the T_Group approach. U.S Trainers used this approach since 1970s. It certainly bridged the color and ethnic divide. I think Malaysia should put all parliamentarians under this kind of session.

Hey, your cross-cultural experience should make you a good facilitator too. Ever thought of making
sensitivity training as a profession? Or are there more sensitive things which require your full attention before 2009 ends?

rambomadonna said...

Dear, I have too much sensitivity in my system right now ... sensitive skin, sensitive heart and sensitive to light (mcm vampire pulak hehehe) so sensitivity training as a profession is a no-no at the moment ... hahaha

norzah said...

That's waht many of us feel, J, that we're very sensitivie oredi. Read some of the politically oriented bloggers' view, the critics of govt. You'd wish that they were sensitive to the feelings of others. You're okay I know but how sensitive, I wonder, hehe.

Anonymous said...

[url=]online casino[/url], also known as accepted casinos or Internet casinos, are online versions of acknowledged ("buddy and mortar") casinos. Online casinos grant gamblers to assess as role in and wager on casino games from start to wrap up dispose of the Internet.
Online casinos habitually drag up in place of at one's fingertips odds and payback percentages that are comparable to land-based casinos. Some online casinos swing authority higher payback percentages as a prescription looking fully area gismo games, and some garner known payout consequence profit audits on their websites. Assuming that the online casino is using an correctly programmed unspecific amphitheatre troupe generator, catalogue games like blackjack control an established congress edge. The payout incise up after these games are established late the rules of the game.
Assorted online casinos sublease or get their software from companies like Microgaming, Realtime Gaming, Playtech, Supranational Sophistry Technology and CryptoLogic Inc.

Anonymous said...

It's perfect time to make some plans for the future and it's time to be happy.
I've read this post and if I could I want to suggest you few interesting things or advice. Perhaps you can write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it!

Have a look at my homepage - top online casinos