Saturday, June 06, 2009

Thinking - that's what ticks my box

This week there is news, of a sort. I have been given a document from the Public Protection Unit of the National Offender Management Service which informs me, among other things, that I have yet another parole hearing in June of next year, 2010. I am told that the timing will enable me to:

• Be assessed for CALM (Controlling Anger and Learning to Manage it)
• Be assessed by a psychologist

Ah - therein lies the rub! Considering that I have now been here two months, after a very unseemly transfer from Whitemoor, it seems a bit curious to me that the psychology people here at Long Lartin are conspicuous by their absence. There is a long queue of fellows waiting to be assessed by these bright school leavers - sorry, trainee psychologists.

If (that wonderful word so revered by Rudyard Kipling and a big favourite of children building castles in the air), if they assess me and find me unsuitable, what happens then?

I fully intend to discuss these assessment tools with those administering them, if / when I see them. The various tools would appear to be not exactly devised for what they are being used for, but that is by the way. I intend to qualify, in discussion, exactly what they are assessing me for and quite what tools they are using and the validity of those tools.

Of course, that in itself will mark me as some kind of troublemaker - prisoners are forced to partake in an Enhanced Thinking Skills course, but God help them if they actually try to think. No, they are not teaching prisoners how to think, but WHAT to think. Let's not bother ourselves with that aspect however, let's just stick to the point.

Bugger it, let us mention 'thinking' after all - it is quite an important subject, according to the prison service.

Thinking, an abstract exercise of the mind.

We all think, some of us less coherently than others, and some of us downright insanely, but we all think. That's the problem really - we all think. The difficulty comes because most people miss the fact that we are all individuals and none of us think alike, yet we all make the mistake of thinking that we do. This is why a poor thinker gets upset when he has an idea that, to his way of thinking, is perfectly operational, and then a far superior thinker spots the flaws and shoots the idea down in flames. At the other end of the spectrum we have the good thinker who is explaining what is, to him, a perfectly simple concept and who gets annoyed when a nitwit can't grasp it.

What we should be doing is facing the fact that we all think differently. We shouldn't condemn people just because they don't think like us, or don't think the same things.

This is where the prison pervice and their trainee psychologists fall down. They think they know best - and perhaps they do, but that has to be tested. I suspect it may not be quite as they think and that they do not have any answers, certainly not in the tick-box culture. The tick-box culture and thinking are diametrically opposed really - one does not encourage the other.

Anyway, I have a provisional parole hearing in June of next year - I just thought you would like to know that.

The Voice In The Wilderness

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