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Letter to Editor published in Evening Echo, August 1969

The Bishop of Bedford's letter agreeing to be a signatory arrived too late for his name to be included below

 

OCR'd from Press Cutting and re-formatted

 

 

DON'T LET THEM

TWIST OUR MINDS

 

THERE IS a growing use of group methods in training or assisting people in all walks of life to be more effective in whatever activity they are engaged in. It is now widely accepted that children should be taught as a group by encouraging them to react one with the other and not just with the teacher.

Other examples of the purposeful use of group processes are organised discussions, brain storming sessions and weight watching clubs.

One advanced development of this method is the T Group. A pamphlet (Training Information No 4 Improving Skills in Working with People: the T Group", by Dr P. B. Smith, HMSO 3s 6d) issued earlier this year by the Department of Employment and Productivity, describes the T Group in some detail and evaluates its effectiveness as a training method.

Significantly, from the point of view of this letter, the pamphlet lists a number of misuses of T Groups. They can, for example, be used to bring about rapid changes in personality or behaviour or to produce a maverick whose function is to promote change in a hostile environment.

The deliberate use of group processes such as the T Group can be very beneficial, but there are dangers arising from their unskilled or unethical application.

In November 1968 a group was formed in Harpenden, known as the Safeguard Group, which has as its object the examination of the purposeful uses of group processes with a view to recommending safeguards against misuse.

The Group has first examined the use of T Group and similar methods in leadership training for or on behalf of the Church, and has made a preliminary report which is under consideration by many of the bodies concerned.

Safeguard Group now proposes to examine the use of group psychological techniques in industry and in particular for leadership training or management development. Manipulation of an individual by a group and of a group by an individual will also receive attention.

The Group would be glad to hear from any person who has an active interest in these subjects, with a view to participating in its meetings.

Harold V. Beck, Murdoch E. Dahl,

Kenith A. David, + John Hertford,

I. D. Morton, Gordon S. Wakefield

 

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