by Danny Recio, PhD
Alice and the Mad Hatter as an example for Supportive Immersion:
Alice is feeling lost and encounters Mad Hatter and says:
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"
Mad Hatter responds: “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to”
Alice: “I don’t much care where –"
Mad hatter: "Then it doesn’t matter which way you go."
Mad Hatter does not jump at the chance of directing Alice as if there is just one path to take, but instead wants to know where she is intending to go. AS many learning experiences begin, the learner may not know exactly how to even get started, so just getting going might be plenty good. In the end, if Mad Hatter is indeed using Supportive Immersion, he knows to favor process, and will encourage starting to walk as part of the process of finding direction.
Let’s imagine Mad Hatter continues the Supportive Immersion growth process. He then proceeds by letting Alice know that they can walk together, and that as they do so, he can support her in finding her way, as well as learn how to find her way in future situations. Mad Hatter pays close attention to Alice’s walking and how she chooses where to go; he wants to tap into how Alice is experiencing the walk. Sometimes he allows her to lead, and at other times, he will offer suggestions and provide useful information toward learning how to navigate the forest. By doing this, Alice begins to understand how Mad Hatter finds his way and makes choices in the forest, and she can, with Mad Hatter’s support, apply and practice those skills so she can creatively develop her own method of navigating the forest.
After a while of walking, talking, practicing, reflecting, exploring and integrating the experience, Alice has gathered enough applicable information on how to walk in the forest. She is now able to make an intentional, responsible and autonomous choice of where she wants to go, but more importantly, she now knows how to navigate the forest and how to change course if she so needs or desires.