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In this piece we introduce groups and group work, define some key aspects, and suggest areas for exploration. In particular we focus on the process of working with groups. In this context, working in groups is often presented as a good way of dividing work and increasing productivity.
It can also be argued that it allows for the utilization of the different skills, knowledge and experiences that people have. As a result, in schools and colleges it is often approached as a skill to be learnt — the ability to work in group-based environments.
In this article our focus is different. We explore the process of working with groups both so that they may undertake particular tasks and become environments where people can share in a common life, form beneficial relationships and help each other.
Entering groups or forming them, and then working with them so that members are able be around each other, take responsibility and work together on shared tasks, involves some very sophisticated abilities on the part of practitioners.
These abilities are often not recognized for what they are — for when groupwork is done well it can seem natural. Skilled groupworkers, like skilled counsellors, have to be able to draw upon an extensive repertoire of understandings, experiences and skills and be able to think on their feet.
They have to respond both quickly and sensitively to what is emerging in the exchanges and relationships in the groups they are working with. Our starting point for this is a brief exploration of the nature of groups. We then turn to the process of working with.
We also try to define groupwork — and discuss some of foci that workers need to attend to. We finish with an overview of the development of groupwork as a focus for theory-making and exploration.
What is a group? In a separate article we discuss the nature of groups and their significance for human societies see What is a group?
Here I just want to highlight five main points. First, while there are some very different ways of defining groups — often depending upon which aspect of them that commentators and researchers want to focus upon — it is worthwhile looking to a definition that takes things back to basics.
Here, as a starting point, we are using Donelson R. This definition has the merit of bringing together three elements: Second, groups are a fundamental part of human experience. They allow people to develop more complex and larger-scale activities; are significant sites of socialization and education; and provide settings where relationships can form and grow, and where people can find help and support.
Humans are small group beings. We always have been and we always will be. The ubiquitousness of groups and the inevitability of being in them makes groups one of the most important factors in our lives.
As the effectiveness of our groups goes, so goes the quality of our lives. Johnson and Johnson The socialization they offer, for example, might be highly constraining and oppressive for some of their members.
Given all of this it is easy to see why the intervention of skilled leaders and facilitators is sometimes necessary. Third, the social relationships involved in groups entail interdependence.
However, even more significant than this for group process, Lewin argued, is some interdependence in the goals of group members.
To get something done it is often necessary to cooperate with others. Fourth, when considering the activities of informal educators and other workers and animateurs operating in local communities it is helpful to consider whether the groups they engage with are planned or emergent.
Planned groups are specifically formed for some purpose — either by their members, or by some external individual, group or organization.
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Emergent groups come into being relatively spontaneously where people find themselves together in the same place, or where the same collection of people gradually come to know each other through conversation and interaction over a period of time. Cartwright and Zander Much of the recent literature of groupwork is concerned with groups formed by the worker or agency.The Hillman Group 2-Inch Black on Silver Reflective Square-Cut Mylar House, Number 4 - - leslutinsduphoenix.com What is groupwork?
While many practitioners may describe what they do as ‘groupwork’, they often have only a limited appreciation of what groupwork is and what it entails.
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