Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Interacting in the Classroom

Having spent year and plus one half-term so far taking an evening class in accounting at college, I have began to pinpoint some observations about classroom interactions, that felt really noticable this week.

We're currently preparing for the first exam for this course, and on Monday's tutorial the tutor gave every student a practice paper to work on in class, that we could do using our books and notes to help and being allowed to discuss the questions with fellow students.

What I noticed particularly on Monday, although I've been noticing this generally since I began studying is how much my fellow students socialise by conferring and discussing the work during the tutorial, and how much they like to compare answers or exchange knowledge from each other when doing excersizes in class. I noticed this particularly on Monday as the tutorial was orientated towards doing a practice exam paper.

Usually, some of the students will ask me "is this right?," or "have you got this?"... during class, and I apperciate that because it shows they must have some regard for me. I always try and help when they ask, and sometimes I feel I do hit the mark by sharing knowledge correctly and interacting well. However, quite often someone might ask about question 2.2b, and I have to say "sorry I haven't read it through yet."  It often takes three reads to really understand the question and focus on it properly. But yes, I try hard to fit in with their way of learning.

Now I consider it perfectly natural to want to discuss the work and share ideas about it, with perhaps a bit of conferrnig outside the tutorial. However what seems bizarre and illogical to me is the extent to which fellow student do this. Considering that all the accountancy exams have to be taken alone, and considering that there are clear notes, explanations, and answers available in the textbooks, which the tutor is able to clarify where necessary, why do students spend so much time conferring with each other on questions, rather than just quietly get on with the work and refer their textbooks for help? Why go to an still-learning student for help who is at the same level as you and has a 50% chance of getting the answer right, when there's a textbook in front of you that is 100% correct?

It just doesn't make sense!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

They Think I Should Be the Class Rep But Cannot I Fit in Conversationally?

Well I completed a certificate in basic accounting last year, and in September I went back to college to do another year's study which will hoepfully lead me to get a diploma.
Many of the students on my course this year are the same ones  was with last year, although there are several new students. I have always made a point of trying to be socialable at college, and the main time for socialising is the mid-tutorial break in th refrectory. However, whilst I am sure no-one dislikes me, and people are reasonably friendly, I cannot help feel that I often a fish out of water when handing around with fellow students, and its been hard to pinpoint exactly why. However I feel the penny dropped at my last tutorial yestarday. What I've noticed at college often applies to other social situations.

I am by nature a very formalised individual. If I'm ever walking from one place to another with a group of people, particularly young people, I simply don't fit in with their very casual form of conversation. Sometimes whilst others engage in a casual, jokey chit-chat whilst ambling along the street, I may find myself having a slightly more serious or straight-forward conversation with one of the quieter people. This may be why I've often found I got on better with more middle-aged people than my own generation.

It is this casual, jokey type of chit-chat and banter that I find I cannot fit in with at college. I may be sitting in a circle with fellow students or walking to or from refrectory. Yestarday for instance, I was walking with a group of lads to refrectory, and one of them was joking about someone who thought it would snow next week, as a few long-range forecasts had predicted, and that he'd put a bet on that it wouldn't snow, and they were al saying in the casual kind of way "its not gonna snow." (In my area you get an average of one day per winter with a light covernig of snow - its vitrually unheard of in October!) I attempted to but in and contribute to the discussion by referring to a long-range weather forecaster Piers Corbyn, who critiqued the newspaper reports predicting snow. However, as I preceeded to make my contribution, I seemed to be locked out and overshadowed by the discussion, despite the fact I had relevent factual information to share.

It seems like that one incident is symptomic of my difficulties socially at college and elsewhere. For me, it feels like I am having to pander a lower and less intelligent form of discussion in order to win friendship.

I find this a very frustrating issue, because I consider it be far more virtuous to be genuine, factual and honest in conversation, than to have to dumb down your language and any relevent knowledge and intelligence.

Being Appointed as Class Rep

At the end of the tutorial the tutor announced that we needed to appoint one person to be the class representative on the college's student forum, which would involve occasional, optional meetings and possibly the odd free lunch. The tutor left the room for about two minutes to allow us all to confer.

Immediately after he left I spoke out to the class and said "hands up anyone who's relevatively free during the daytime." As everyone works in the daytime, no one raised their hand. Then another student proposed to nominate me, and then said "hands up who wants to appoint ...." Then every student raised their hands. They obviously see something good in me, so I left college with a good feeling.

It just goes to show that some of us who may be weak in mingling socially can excel with offered a platform to speak and announce publically. I'm glad I was able to demonstrate that confidence and an element of leadership last night.

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Brief Update and a Highly Complex Story of that Saturday

Just because this blog has been very quiet for three months now does not mean that I've finished socialising.Quite the contrary. Since getting involved in the social attraction 'academy' I've been out on many Friday ro Saturday nights with other guys from the adademy, including a few workshops with the coach, and in the process of these and a various other socials I've approached about 100 girls/groups of girls within the past few months. I've learnt a bit about how to approach well, natural conversation techniques, storytelling and body language. So much has happened that I just haven't had the time to explain and clarify it all. However some events have occured recently that I really cannot keep to myself.

Last Saturday Night

I was out last Saturday night with a guy frmo the academy. We practiced some of the conversational techniques we'd learnt first, then approach several groups of girls, and then the following happened. Below is a revised extract of an email report I sent to the coach. Read on its a fascinating story:

We went to the cocktail place, and I started to feel irritated because I witnessed what appeared to be an approach by a couple of guys to two girls at a table. They were good looking and seemed to be doing it better than us so I was feeling a bit annoyed, but I decided after we had a drink and doing a couple of other approaches, to approach one of the guys in the group and simply ask him about how he approaches or ask the girl about it. This altered the course of the night. The men had high energy levels and using a lot of jokes and banter. After I approached the group the guy said he thought he'd seen me on TV (i've never been on TV) and thought I may have a hidden camera with me . He also offered to help me make approaches promising me a number every week (I didn't take it up). During the interaction one of the guys took a photo with me in there with the girl and also lifted me up by the legs! The girl was much more genuine and very friendly and level-headed, she asked me about my job etc. I told her where I worked and my studies etc, and that I started a business doing talks on diability issues. She did flirt with me somewhat but was flrting with others too. Later I mentioned I had Aspergers, and she replied my saynig that I seemed perfectly normal and would never have guessed. Basically it was a wierd mix of this group trying to teach me about interacting with girls and then thinking I was filming for BBC3 etc. All this time it was quite easy for me because everyone else was investing in the interaction with me so I didn't have to say or do much. Now as I got in there, the guy I was with left to go to another place, so I had one eye on trying not to lose him. So after about 10-15 minutes with those guys I said goodbye, went out and called the other guy, however as he couldn't get into pub he was going into, I suggested he come back to the cocktail place. So I walked back there and he met me there and I introduced him to the group. He had to leave soon after but as things were going well I stayed on, and the girl asked me (seriously) if I'd come along to a nightclub with them, I just had to say yes.

As we were walking to the cluib it felt like the girl was very genuine and perhaps trying to look after me a bit, the guys were acting silly, she was kind of saying "don't take notice of him" and it felt like the main guy might have been taking me on for a ride (i'm used to that) but the girl was totally genuine. When I got to the club, the other guys went in but the security man wouldn't let me in without ID. However the girl came to my rescue and opened the door and insisted they let me in. I stayed there about half an hour, although I felt a bit lost there as everyone seemed to know loads of people among the crowds - doing approaches in clubs is a completely different ballgame! Nevertheless when the girl seemed to walways make sure I was alright.

Way Home

As I left to go to the bus stop for the night bus, I was approached by two teenage girls if I could lend them my phone as they had no credit. She said I could hold her bag whilst she phones so she won't run off. Initially I lent it to them but as there was no signal they gave it back. I witnessed them being approached by a coloured guy a few mniutes later, and I asked the coloured guy something related, just out of interest.

Now the girls came back to me as I sat down at the bus stop where they appeared to be waiting, and started making a mockery of me, negative assumption stacking about my lack of relationships, which frighteningly for two completely immature girls (they seriously did not look old enough to be out) was largely correct. It just seems sometimes I always invariable portray an image of low social status. I basically acted like I was better than them, and in other words told them they needed to grow up and explanied a bit about Asperger's Syndrome and that they ought to appreciate the fact some peolpe simply struggle socially just like some struggle physically and mentally, which they didn't seem to understand. There were making a mockery of me but they were giving me attention, and then one of them asked again if she could borrow my phone. I said no at first, because I've been mugged in the past and from experience I couldn't trust them. She insisted I could hold her blackberry, so after pestering me a bit I gave in and let them call their Mum on my phone. However, she didn't give me her blackberry and after calling they walked away with my phone. When I challenged them they both denied they had it, abnd then walked off, and basically I couldn't get hold of it.

Its pay as you go so its no emergency as such, but nevertheless I called the police immediately when I got home, and called to get it immobilsed.

Needless to say, I proceeded to tell this story to friends and a couple of girls I approached at the bus stop the following day.