Comments and Reactions of the PRA

Different experts were asked for their opinion about the MMA. This chapter presents the very comments of those national and international practitioners and experts.

Robert Chamber

Robert Chamber, a veteran thinkers and practitioner of PRA has regarded the Mind Management Approach (14-page) as open–endedness, flexible, methodological pluralism. For him it is striking and impressive. Many Training practitioners have been using this anyway. Some of the other things that have struck me positively are:

  • The idea that participants become their own trainers are co-learners
  • The opposition to method fundamentalism and “methods for methods sake”
  • The concern with how we sit. What is comfortable in one culture and tradition, however, may not be in another.
  • The right not to participate
  • Guru Shishser Box
  • Create sense that the trainers really do not know better than the participants

David Archer

Like Robert Chamber David Archer opines that there is a remarkable resonance between this paper and the latest practice of Reflect training workshops in Peru and Brazil. The core ideas and approaches have much in common. I think there would be very rich grounds for more direct exchange and I would be keen to try to facilitate this through visits or joint workshops. I would also like to see many of these ideas strongly represented in the CIRAC resource paper on training. I think the specific term communicates an impression and the role is surely to stimulate people so that they can manage their own minds effectively. It is engaged with the “subjective and it deals with people’s real humanity. It works with a “process approach” rather than one which focuses on tools, techniques or contents. It embarks upon the process of Power analysis at all levels. IT works with institutions and individuals first. Its emphasis is mostly on the creative spontaneity, i.e. creating and innovating tools/ approaches to the specific needs of the specific group of people in a specific workshop. The view of the trainer as a co-learner as bridging the gap, and it emphasises on encouraging participants to actually facilitate most sessions in a training workshop. It works very long hours.

David Archer has also mentioned certain points which are very important for the analysis such as;

–          It builds an informal climate in the formal sessions – which is found very exciting According to him, instead of having buzz groups (for example) participants can be send off in pairs /small groups to go for a walk – because people may  talk very differently and more openly when they are walking.

–          The sensitivity to language (eg use of Tui) which is hugely important and can itself become a useful focus for reflection about “subtext” and the power of communication.

–          The concept of “Setu Bandhan Committee (I like the word)

–          Adda at the rooms of participants.

–          The critique of the inadequacy of existing approaches to training

–          The emphasis on human sensitivity and the uniqueness of each person (which comes through very forcefully).

–          The emphasis throughout on people’s readiness to learn – their mental disposition – and the way in which many traditional approaches to training fail to recognise this.

So, in summary and in order to keep this sufficiently concise, I am very excited by the developments in approaches to training that the paper tries to capture. There are times when I feel a little uneasy with the way things are put – and I would prefer to talk of it as a power process approach rather than a mind-management approach – but I equally recognise that the language may have a different or particular resonance in Bangladesh.

I really hope that we can use the New Year ahead to deepen the exchange of experiences around approaches to training. The CIRAC paper represents one good opportunity. Another will be presented very soon with the Participatory Methodologies Forum in Bangladesh. We hope to use some of these approaches within the workshop. Though I understand that you may not be at the workshop itself I will be there with Nico and I hope that we can find some time for some serious discussion about this with you and others using this approach in Reflect. We are only likely to be around for about 3 days after the workshop (which ends on 3rd Feb. However, from 4th to 6th February Nico and I would be keen to dedicate our time to whatever the RCU feels would be most useful. We should certainly be able to set up some future exchanges / links (both ways) between Latin America and Bangladesh. >From 7th-9th February we will be in Delhi for various other meetings and then we have to return to Europe.

The Mind Management Approach developed by the friends of Action Aid, Bangladesh is truly an outcome of their deep involvement in participatory training over long time with the community and the NGOs. This approach, I think will be very useful in ensuring a high degree of spontaneous participation in a variety of training-learning situations like training workshops, community meetings etc. The major powerful elements (to enhance the level of involvement of the participants in a group) used in the approach are based on the basic human quality and nature (emotions, good feelings, fearlessness) and would stimulate the mind of each individual to come out and share their thoughts with others. This is more appropriate in societies where not everyone has the same opportunity or at least feels free to express views in group for various reasons.

The Mind Management Approach could be very effective in such situations and the same may be further fine-tuned suiting to different situations and societies as this one could be more effective to stimulate the minds Bengalis (audience/participants). It is in fact a “mind-broadening” or “mind -empowering” approach which probably allows each individual to manage their own mind freely. This is not threatening in a training-learning environment, I think. I hope that many trainers would use it successfully and would develop it further in the Future.

Shamsul Huda

As part of its social structure our training was the major tool to build up land workers. Within a year, a new demand is created country wide, especially among the development organisations regarding training of ALRD. A great demand was created regarding our training. I also was inquisitive to know about it, though I was not a trainer in general sense.

At one stage I observed and realised the difference and uniqueness of this training with those of others. Some aspects also greatly stroke me. Suppose we could not find out our trainers really in training sessions. They even could not be detected from others. Sessions were going on outside classrooms in gossiping. Our trainers were involved with the gossiping of different groups like friends. This intimacy between participants and participants and participants and trainers was seemed incomparable to me and I can still recall the scenario. It made a tie among them quickly. One is addressing other as tui, tumi (you) as if, they were closed intimate for a long while. On the other hand the time was not scheduled. Sessions were taking place at night, nobody was either reluctant or exhausted with monotony. Everybody was working towards a certain goal like a member within a team.

Then it was not realised or assumed that a new approach was emerging in our training arena and possibly I also provided a single drop of dew to that. Through the joint publication by MMA Practitioners Circle and Action Aid Bangladesh and the opinions of national and international experts made in the book, I have come to realise that a new approach has developed in participatory training realm – calling MMA. I am determined that the approach will be able to root deeply in any training arena if the sequences are maintained orderly and attention is given to enhance its practice through promoting regular research and documentation of newly invented techniques. We hope the approach will provide a new direction towards a scope to contemplate over the issue of own practice seriously.

Abdul Mazid Mallik

MMA seems to be an attributed name. For its relevant title, we should find out a term in compliance with our indigenous society . . .

I would like to address it as the process of mental formation of human beings. Because human-being is an important factor in the society. His mental strength accelerates the society to move forward. He is guided through his internal value and vigour which is build up by dint of his peripheral livelihood and he encounters a lot of social pressure. Existing depletion of values also exists there. Training program will be effective if these issues are considered to shape up the mindset. Consequently development gamut will have the successful impact.

MMA consists of all these qualities – I believe that, Mind Management approach is a remarkable innovation – emerged in course of crucial time.

Sometimes participants are required to be animated and encouraged in training, so it is necessary to create an environment which is called making of condition. Conditions created by MMA are much more enthusiastic and dynamic in comparison to the methodologies of traditional training. Participants are effectively encouraged through this.

Because, experiences say, it is easier to enhance service skill of a traditional staff in many training but it is also hard to make the attitudinal change. But MMA helps change human attitude and values. Since training of this approach is free, un-communal, people-oriented and diversified in nature, those can be disseminated spontaneously in many development workers.

Farida Akhtar

According to the multiple intelligence theory of training, time for learning is exclusively personal. It is very hard to say when someone learns or when this act of learning takes place exactly. For example, someone learns in a training session, some others may learn in the dining table while eating, and someone may learn after returning home. Causes behind this are that the time and type of learning are exclusively personal. MMA takes up different ways and means for successful utilisation of this theory. Alongside the personal concept of group learning, nursing has already been prioritised in MMA. I do expect and desire that the approach will be flourished with its unique quality and fragrance.

Mohammad Zakaria

MMA (Mind Management Approach) apparently hears non-participatory. None should manage others mind. Everyone should feel empowered enough to manage their own mind. Then question comes – why do we go for psychology course?

The reality is, many negative variables-hostile forces are active in managing our mind. We lose our freedom in so many ways, in so many places. I lost my freedom in schools. I had to obey school rules. I lost my freedom when I was married. I had to obey marriage rules. I lost my third freedom when I got a job. I had to obey office rules. May be, these are all necessary bondages, needed in social living. However, in most cases, the poor and the weaker sections of the society are in bondages that cripple them in flourishing. Power is the core concept. Society does not distribute power on egalitarian basis. This is true globally, nationally and locally. Mind management comes to encounter power dictation.

MMA , drawing from the struggles, campaigns, policy advocacies as well as the empowerment process, through reflect and many other participations of the poor to amplify their voice towards the assertion of rights.

We need to explore many options as classical PRA type participation is not really working. Professor Chamber himself is saying we have so many bad PRAs. In fact we do not know the last answer. What we know -people have to be empowered. Majority’s voice has to be heard loud rather than the minority irrespective of whether religion, wealth, caste, creed or any other criteria.

Manipulation of our mind – wrong layers on our real mind – over a long period in history and under wrong structures. Those dirts from our mind have to be cleaned. Major operation is done because of major disease accumulation. Collective name is poverty at individual and bigger society level. Poverty reduction needs mind cleaning /management. Only fearless mind can do the job.