6 Staff members and one student attended a Solutions Focused congress in Amsterdam from 13 to 15 June. Annaliese Brink and Marianne Bezuidenhoudt were also invited presenters of workshops.
The Congress went extremely well. Both Annaliese’s and Marianne’s presentations were received enthusiastically.
Sarah de Jongh, our head girl, who was part of Annaliese’s presentation, was a star. She literally had the audience in tears, and had a standing ovation.
To keep control in many of our South African class rooms, the control is based on the principle of “name, blame, shame” and to punish with detention. Through our Dutch colleagues we came into contact with many specialists,and our staff was trained by “Solutions focused” specialists during the past three years.
Solutions focused philosophy branches out into education, psychiatry and therapy. The basis of this philosophy is to acknowledge the problem, but not to focus on it. Instead conversational techniques help to guide towards an optimistic solution. Although these techniques seem simplistic, they are extremely difficult. Put yourself in the position where you are very, very cross with somebody. How do you not blame, not bring up the original problem ( over and over), but guide the conversation in a positive direction. Preferably in such a way that the original problem will not occur again?
In our school (students and teachers) are flourishing with this philosophy.
Our aims at attending the congress was the following:
- To improve the solution focused problem solving capability of our staff, therefore making our organisation more effective.
- To try and overcome ingrained ways of thinking and embedded attitudes and thereby having a positive effect on our surrounding areas.
We are very happy with the extremely positive outcomes and feedback.
We already got active involvement for help with further skills training, as well as donations for an excellent, but very needy creche in Kayalitsha, flutes for a school in Macassar.
Several educational specialists from Europe will be visiting us next year to help both our school and surrounding schools. In February, Marien Lokerse, specialist on how to deal with anger, and with conflict situations trained our staff and our students, as well as some students at the Macassar Primary School. Some of the teachers who came to Europe, to the Congress, also attended another anger management session.
Then we are also expecting one of the founders of Solutions Focused Philosophy in March, Arnould Huibers. Monique van den Berg, who comes annually to assist with teacher training, as well as a Danish psychiatrist specialising in teenagers that self harm are also expected.
We also made many friends and enjoyed doing touristy things.