I have a confession to make.
Throughout high school, I never knew the difference between a lecture, a workshop, and a discussion group. In all of them, you sat and listened while a teacher spoke. If there was time at the end, you got to ask questions. And a panel? It was the same thing, just with more people.
Which is why I laughed at this story from Rachel about a group therapy session with the principal, which is indistinguishable from a two-person panel.
My friends and I got a bad reputation in high school. We didn’t get involved in chesed activities or participate in the school play. This meant, apparently, that we were aloof and tifrosh min hatzibor, and maybe even a little bit lacking in hakaras hatov for all the extracurricular activities the school provided us with, and this was a problem that had to be solved.
Instead of coercing us into getting involved (editor’s note: that’s what my principal would have done; she once tried to lecture a friend of mine into getting better chumash grades), our principal decided to address the underlying cause of our issues. She organized a group therapy session for the five us and herself with the school therapist. (Editor’s note: school therapist? This is a wildly progressive organization.)
So we all gather in the therapist’s office, our plastic chairs arranged in a circle to encourage the sharing of feelings. But we didn’t really get to. It was a very quiet session (for us), during which the principal got all her feelings out, and the therapist supported her with therapist-like observations, while we students sat with our hands in our laps and listened in silence.
When the two adults finished their therapy, the principal wrapped the session up with a supporting dvar Torah, about the importance of being involved in the community, and then sent us back to class.
Story provided by Rachel.