Organizing Dialogue, Experience and Knowledge for Complex Problem-Solving

debriefing RID presentation

July 17th, 2005

Why Bother” didn’t seem to be as attractive a title as “Breaking Role.” We had well over a hundred people attend, but this was nowhere near the amount of people that came two years ago in Chicago. Was the title a turn-off? Did it imply that interpreters shouldn’t bother – even to come? Just curious. 🙂 Nonetheless, our discussion was rich, and the Deaf participants added a lot that we didn’t have in the Breaking Role discussion. The feedback Eileen and I received was similar to that which I’ve received in the past; those who do come continue to affirm the value of continuing this discussion. (At least, these are the folks who give us direct feedback; no doubt (?) there are others who don’t find it helpful or interesting – or aren’t ready? – to tease out the mechanics of communication breakdown between interpreters and the Deaf.)


We know of a handful of folks weren’t prepared for some aspects of the conversation: for some it was the depth of discussion, others the concept(s), some the theory, some the empirical evidence. This is something I need to keep in mind always: no matter how “obvious” I think the history and evidence is, I must provide an overview that brings everyone up to speed. I realized, after the fact, that I had taken it for granted that “everyone is aware” of particular and specific tensions around the ASL/English interpreting process. That’s my big post-workshop aha!

I had several aha’s as I was preparing the videotape clips. The one that hit deepest is that I find it easier and easier (relatively speaking) to notice evidence of a particular discourse in others and harder and harder to see it in myself. :-/ This may just be the way of things &emdash; that as humans we’re only able to be aware of a certain amount of our own behavior while we’re actually doing the behavior. It reminds of being a goalie in soccer. My best saves were ones I literally cannot remember making. I can recall the approach of the opposing player, but I rarely recall the moment of the shot. It’s as if all my mind could record was the moment of preparation and then the physical sensation of my hands on the ball – my fingers deflecting it just enough to knock it wide of the goal. The “in-between” of diving and stretching is gone – not recorded, not within consciousness. Pure reflex.

So, when I was debating with Anne (shown on video) – pushing her to get MY point (!), Anne was also trying to explain HER point. The only way I could orient to her (my position, my footing, was to receive her message as a refutation of my point. I was unable to interpret that she was arguing something else; instead, I took her argument to be against mine, rather than on a different topic! I did not realize this (didn’t see myself in it, or didn’t see ‘it’ in me) until…six months later! During the workshop I did notice this behavior in an interpreter (it could have been any interpreter, and I honestly believe if it wasn’t that person it would have been someone else, saying something similar)…and, I think I only was able to notice it because I had finally recognized it in myself.

There was a moment when I became acutely aware of Eileen in the Deaf discourse; her responsiveness to my noticing (her conscious choice not to engage at that moment) gave me pause, allowing me to become aware of another aspect of my own communication – when I want to continue anyway. I did not (this time!), which reminds me of a lesson that I have had a few times but often forget: the thing with discourses is that they keep coming back.

This is discouraging on the one hand (because discourses are so resistant to change), and yet encouraging on the other hand (there’s always going to be another chance). 🙂

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