Recently, I worked with a Muslim child to develop a prescription poem in a creative writing workshop. This was one of the things I did in as a part of my social work placement. Prescription poetry similar to what a medical doctor does, prescribes something (medicine usually) to make a person feel better. The kids were tasked with writing lists of things that made them feel good, and you bet there was a lot of fortnite on their lists.
An example list of some eye-catching feel-good every day joys included the sensations linked with smell, spending time with someone they loved and my favorite, sleeping.
On this example list of the class’ feel-goods, was the listing of ‘Crispy Bacon’.
The Muslim child instantly reacted when he saw that listed, citing that he thinks it is disgusting and he’s not supposed to like that. This interaction made me think about whether or not such a workshop, which was presented to a pretty multicultural group of kids, should have had named Crispy Bacon. I sympathised with the kid by saying “Yeah, I can see how you wouldn’t like that. Don’t worry, this isn’t personally for you but rather something anther student wrote.”
This brought up a few interesting ideas, on one hand I thought this listing could be omitted so that cultural safety for the kid could be ensured in case there was offence. On the other hand however, the child will undoubtedly be exposed to this idea in multiple avenues in their life and will need to learn that other people life differently from their own culture. This also touches on issues of censorship within practice.
I came to the conclusion in a school that had a higher percentage of Muslim students, omitting Bacon would probably make a more relatable list. However, omitting it from a group of student’s might make assumptions on their cultural practices. While I myself am not Muslim, I know some aspects about Islamic beliefs and cultural practices. With that said, I am no expert and would always treat whoever I am working with in a social work/human services space as the expert, and I simply the facilitator of their knowledge.
This goes with a workshop like this, which specifically focuses on what the children most enjoy in their lives. This inherently is subjective and even though not eating bacon is a collective cultural practice, it still occurs on that individual level that I should not ever assume. But if they didn’t take part, knowing that others do is a powerful tool to help show diversity of cultural practices in small, every day ways. Since my supervision session and after the workshop in particular, I think it ultimately helped showed a different way of living life, although briefly.
Yes, that supervision session was an hour-long. As a social worker, I feel like being able to unpack micro-interactions like that are a powerful tool in critical reflection. Focusing on a whole interview in reflection is just too much, but focusing on one particularly moment in a client interview helps inform the rest of the interactions and shows how little mirco-skills inform client dynamics. This is something I wish to further explore, how to really think critically for potential other social workers reading.
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