Getting to know you

By Kirstin Buick
20 October 2013

This week on Dream School, psychologist Esta Hattingh gave a class to help the learners get to know themselves a bit better. Our resident Dream School blogger found this fascinating.

This week on Dream School, psychologist Esta Hattingh gave a class to help the learners get to know themselves a bit better. I found this fascinating.

Esta set the task for each one to mould an animal out of clay that best represents them. After the initial phallic shapes and giggles were out of the way, the students came up with some interesting concepts.

I’m sure some of them simply moulded the first animal that came to mind, but most of the little clay creations really impressed me. I found it quite intriguing that 15 teenagers, from a wide variety of backgrounds, chose to depict animals with such similar characteristics.

Vincent picked a rat. Strange, I thought. Vincent is nothing like a rat. And what a creature to choose. Then I began to consider what characteristics and feelings he might associate, consciously or not, with the creature: Vermin, despised, disease-carrying … it went on. Nuraan chose a mouse (again, pest, weak). Waunita and Nissaa made animals that might be associated with fragility or weakness, a ladybird and a rabbit. Trevor and Tsepho picked the rhino (endangered, hunted). Even seemingly confident, bubbly Thandeka picked a creature generally shunned and abhorrent, the snake.

Thandeka has a way with words. In her eloquent style, she described the creature she would want to represent her, perhaps giving the rest of the class something to strive for. “If I didn’t have to make this [the creature she thinks most represents her],” she said simply, “I would make a lion. Because no matter how hungry it got, it would never eat grass.”

Looking back, this lesson told me so much about how the students saw themselves. Like their clay alter-egos, they feel separate from society, shunned, threatened, weak. I think I learnt more about them in that single lesson than I could have if I’d known them for years. And it broke my heart.

I hope Dream School can turn around the vulnerable, powerless image they have of themselves. -          KIRSTIN BUICK YOU writer Kirstin Buick had a bird’s eye view of the goings-on on the set of Dream School. Keep up to date with her weekly blog for exclusive behind-the-scenes info. Catch  MySchool Dream School every Sunday at 5 pm on M-Net, M-Net HD, Mzanzi Magic and M-Net Series Channel.


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