The Action of Learning
by Andy Ross
I was never the best behaved of people at school. I was always disruptive when working in groups because I wouldn't listen and could never concentrate. I tried to speak to my teachers and psychiatrists. I even went to the local centre dedicated to kids diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), but I never felt like I was understood.
At first, I just expected this to be another course, but after going to the taster session, I got this feeling that I'd never had before and I instantly knew I was going to learn something from this programme, I just never imagined how much I would learn.
The main thing that helped me was that it was an adult environment that gave the group a safe space to confront any questions or issues.
In the first two sessions, a lot of the group were getting annoyed with me being disruptive and confronted me about it. Because I had made strong relationships with them, I respected them and wanted to act on their concerns. I told them I had ADHD and we all worked together with it – I had never experienced how people could take me and perceive me before.
The tutors also had a lot of patience. Regardless of the type of issue, if you had to get your point across they would let you confront it. That really helped me.
It felt like if there was ever anything wrong, you didn't have to leave it at the door. You could bring it in and work on it together. It really made me value effective communication. That's why I really liked action learning. It made me realise that people handle stuff in different ways and you can benefit from listening and acting on that. I am usually quite impulsive in my thinking; the first thing that comes into my head, I use to solve something or do something. But action learning makes you think outside the box and makes you think of things that may work better.
I wasn't a person who took advice or approached people with a problem, but this was a fun and controlled way of making each person speak and let everyone help you. Now, I'd like to share all my problems with action learning and let everyone help.
It's weird how you become more open-minded from it. With this programme, the benefit can come from such simple things like this - simple things in life that you can do, but you just didn't realise how powerful they can be.
I benefited from learning about leadership and communications, but I also grew in myself. Since being on the programme, the council and job centre that I signed up with, both recommended me for a glazer job, saying that I was the best person they had seen in a long time. I feel confident that I can do the job well because it involves a group of people working together and communication will be critical.
A family support worker for the Scottish Borders Council has also asked me to work together with parents who have kids with ADHD, and help them understand their kids minds a bit better. I feel like I'm a completely different person. I realised that ADHD is a disorder that you have to overcome yourself. No tablets are going to help. By understanding that, I had this mechanism to concentrate less on being disruptive and more on my work. Now I see goals and I see what I need to do to complete it, and I want to do that!
Before, I felt really depressed and was never motivated. But this programme has made me much happier in myself and it makes me feel in control of my own life.
"It wasn't a programme that changed me, it was a programme that made me want to change"