Work Consultancy, Ways of thinking, Philosophy and Psychodynamics, Emotional Education in Educational Practice, Social Justice, Equality Issues, Human Rights, Counselling and Therapy Work (history), History of Science, Science Teaching, Personal – family, friends, interests

Work Consultancy

Elspeth Crawford lives in Scotland, and works in the UK and North East USA. She has extensive experience of group relations and working with change, tuning in to the irrational and unconscious dynamics which motivate or de-motivate even the change-agents. Her insight offers management and their teams an opportunity to build emotional intelligence and relate the human element to organisational and business aims. Specifically, she understands the depth requirements and cultural adjustments which organisations and their people have to make to encompass human rights and anti-discriminatory practice or ecological / ethical wellbeing. She has also worked frequently with email conferencing and electronic media for learning, and can identify ways in which new media, or training regarding its use, can enable collaborative work. In March 2013, the Scottish Institute of Human Relations closed down.  Elspeth was a member of this organization for over 20 years and learnt much from the other members and the work they undertook together. Some of this work is being carried forward by a new organization, Human Development Scotland.

There are many different kinds of consultancy (and related terms such as “mentoring”, “coaching” or “supervision”, depending on whether the context is business or social work or counselling or whatever). A psychodynamic consultancy recognises that people have both unconscious and irrrational motivations, as well as those more immediately accessible, so that self-awareness, attitudes, cultures, etc. are as important as the understanding of functions, roles and purposes in work contexts. The main focus of “work consultancy” is on understanding organisations and finding more effective responses to the dilemmas of management with a ‘caring’ or ‘human resource’ objective. A central perspective taken is that the task of understanding any activity is not separated from the task of self-understanding or insight. Consultancy can take place with individuals, groups or organisations. The focus is on what happens at depth, so that change is real, believed in and can be sustained. More about Consultancy

Ways of thinking, Philosophy and Psychodynamics

“There is nothing so practical as a good theory” (Jock Sutherland).
Early in my studies in history and philosophy of science, I encountered a central issue: as the nature of the thought resulting is affected by the thought process engaged in by the thinker, there is a conceptual difficulty in ‘thinking about thinking‘. Uncertainty rules, not rationality or logic! I was also introduced to philosophical thought about ‘objectivity’, ‘absolute’, ‘proof’ etc. and to distinctions between “heuristics” and “justification”. So, how do we think with truth and integrity?

I had already met psychoanalytic ideas through working with young children, and the processes of thought described by Melanie Klein and Wilfred Bion in particular. More recently, I have been introduced to the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, and to his understanding of thought fallacy (and published a paper on it here ). The understanding of ways of thinking, through bringing together realisations from process philosophy, philosophy of science and psychodynamic theories is the interest which gives most pleasure and inspires me, although I spend least time at it. As Darwin put it: The mind is a chaos of delight. Life and living with family and friends and colleagues is a lot more ordinary, and so it should be. Also see publications here.
More about Philosophy, Psychodynamics and Ways of thinking

Emotional Education in Educational Practice

I recently retired from teaching in the School of Education at the University of Edinburgh, so my practice for several years was dominated by ‘education, education , education’. Much of the uncertainty regarding education in practice lies in the emotional climate in which it takes place. Practice, with its variety of people, curricula, procedures and habits, unfolds each day via the emotional states of individual learners and their teachers, and through the dynamics of the groups and institutions they belong to. This is the bit which cannot be pinned down in advance. Each context has its own unique unfolding, depending on the capacities of people, young and old, the kinds of learning intended, and a multitude of hidden interactions. It is possible to understand more of what is going on, through Emotional Education (though paradoxically, the emotionally educated are less inclined to want control over what is going on, and more likely to help others find and explore their own capabilities).Read a summary in pdf format about some explicit teaching of emotional education in my former work EEcourses. Research into ’emotion’ is developing ways to evaluate information regarding its effect on attitudes and behaviours which can be connected with educational attainments, such as conceptual development or an independent ability to inquire. There is a gap between the research evidence in this area and areas of training and practice. More about Emotional Education Practice

Social Justice, Equality Issues, Human Rights

In simple terms, this is about ‘fairness’, an idea easy to express, but clearly very difficult for society or its institutions to achieve. This is the area within which I have worked since 1993 when I joined what was then the Equity Studies and Special Education Department in a teacher training college. In this complex field, ethics, values and rights, and individual life-chances, are linked to issues of legal and social justice, inter-personal relationships and responsibilities of practice. My colleagues and I sought to develop and understand good practice, using both intellectual enquiry and experiential exploration. My own understanding of intra- and inter-personal issues within relationships and organisational structures has been immeasurably enriched by this work. Personally, I lost a lot of fear of strangeness and now enjoy difference in a way I couldn’t have begun to feel before.

I believe that people seek a framework for understanding their failures and prejudices as well as their ideals, and that they know they are themselves part of the society they seek to change. I have met those who are bewildered or beleaguered by the the manifest failure of their own good intentions, as well as those whose response is a denial: “not here”, and those who actively choose to discriminate. I seek to understand connections between personal attitudes, communities and cultures, and institutional structures and constraints, in order that personal intentions and desire for justice can be matched by abilities to enable others and create change in institutions. Issues of power are entangled with the dilemmas and feelings of being human.

Counselling and Therapy Work (history)

I was a member of the Scottish Institute of Human Relations for over twenty years until it closed in 2013. I was a founding member of the Scottish Association for Psychodynamic Counsellors (SAPC). My work, whether in private practice or with an organisation, with individuals or groups, adheres to the Ethics and Codes of Practice of these bodies. I have worked with individuals and as a consultant to organisations, and as a supervisor. Regarding consultancy, I am particularly interested in the human relations aspects of anti-discrimination policies, or other ‘whole-organisation’ changes which arouse feelings, prejudices and issues of self-esteem. As a supervisor, I have considerable experience of many kinds of work from past teaching in a participative collaborative fashion – with a counselling approach – have listened and empathised with such a variety of highly professional people that I can only look forward to more of this work. As an educator in this field, for some years I gave introductory lectures in Psychodynamic therapy to Art Therapy students at Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, and I was on the staff group of the Seminar Programme for Advanced Practitioners in Counselling of the Scottish Institute of Human Relations and their diploma in Advanced Psychodynamic Counselling (which regrettably no longer runs).More

History of Science, Science Teaching

This interest is part of my own history, and is now more of a hobby than a work area. But, it fits with the rest of my personal philosophy and matters especially in regard to ecology and environmental issues. When I refer to “science”, its history and its teaching, I mean a wide variety of disciplines, and also applications, medicine, technology etc. I have been a teacher of physics, and have studied philosophy of science and the nature of scientific discovery in Michael Faraday’s work (my doctorate thesis). I think that all “Science” is essentially about NOT knowing, followed by the journey from there to making a connection with what happens. “Knowledge” isn’t the end, just some of the stuff met on the journey, and theory is some of the stuff we can use to help us travel. A scientist (child, technician, researcher, or amateur enquirer etc.), knows that her/his thinking is a working assumption, and works with sufficient open-mindedness to meet the unexpected.

The notion that science is about facts seems to me to be a matter of trust in people who have already done some of the work, so that ‘good-enough’ working assumptions for a vast variety of situations are available, as well as those which are assumed to be good, but are not. The history of science, from internal theory to social and institutional context, shows us how people have thought in order to discover, and in order to demonstrate, justify or use what has been discovered. Learning science can happen at any age, but only if the context for learning allows ‘not-knowing’ as an essence to what is being learnt, an idea which goes beyond allowing the mistakes and errors which arise while learning.

Until science teaching, and teaching in general can model such a context, it is not surprising that many learners reject the idea of science, or worse, learn a kind of science which is concerned with omnipotent controlling rather than making connections with what is there.
More about History of Science and Science Teaching

Personal – family, friends, interests

I was brought up in a small village in Ulster, the second of three daughters. I think my parents were ‘humanists’ although they would not have used a label. In Northern Ireland, Ulster, we were a family of outsiders who did not go to any church, but also in the village were a family well-known, well-regarded and accepted. When I left home for university (at Queens, Belfast) the ‘troubles’ had not yet begun. When they did, my then husband and I were living and working in London, and had small children. I have never returned to live in Ireland, although have regularly and often returned for holidays and family caring and sharing. I feel cosmopolitan, not Irish, but paradoxically realise that if I can indeed belong anywhere, it is because I once belonged there. I now work mainly in Edinburgh, Scotland. Other parts of this website show my work interests, many of which overlap with personal and private interests. My family and my friends are chief in these. I have three much loved sons and two very wonderful daughters-in-law, who come from opposite sides of the world, USA and China. I have three very beautiful grandaughters, the USA family, and two grandsons, twins, in China, though this family will soon move to New Zealand. I have two sisters, a niece and a nephew, and my niece has twice made me a grand-aunt. I spend much time with books or films, and a variety of things which involve walking and outdoors. I am trying to learn Chinese, I often visit my in-laws in China, and look forward to returning. I am travelling a lot. See some photos here