The Blobs are simple. They deal with deep issues using the primary languages we learn from infancy – feelings and body language. This is why they are used with children as young as 4, all the way through to the elderly.
The Blobs are neither male nor female, young nor old, European nor African, ancient nor modern. They are outside of culture.
Blobs are the best of us and the worst of us. They don’t tell us what we ought to do, or what we mustn’t do…they merely show us how a variety of people feel.
Without words, the Blobs can be interpreted in a hundred different ways. There is no right and wrong about the Blobs, which is very important. A leader who uses them in a ‘one way of reading them only way’ will find that the rest of their group become very frustrated in discussions.
Each picture is a means to a conversation, rather than a problem to be solved or a message to be agreed upon. If the people you are working with read the characters in totally opposing ways, that’s fine. We each see the world through our own eyes. Allowing others to share their feelings enables group members to understand and appreciate one another.
When we are children our feelings say one thing, sometimes more purely than when we are adults. School is beginning to encourage children to understand their feelings and to master them. For each of us, emotional literacy is a journey of self understanding. We hope the Blobs will contribute a useful tool to that journey, for all ages.
How to use the Blob Tree - There are hundreds of ways to use this one simple image.
The Tree: this is a place, a group or an organisation. It could be your family, a club, a group of friends, a church, a school, an office, a football team, a group that travel by bus, a set of friends on msn, the latest panellists on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, or even just yourself. By being a tree it doesn’t restrict itself to a single place so it can be used in any context. There is a platform and a rope to swing on. What do they symbolise? They might represent safety, leadership, separation, fun or wastefulness? It depends upon how you feel as you look at them, and how you feel that day! Sometimes there is more than one tree, because the way other groups interact with us affects how our group feels.
The Blobs: these are a variety of characters expressing a variety of feelings. It’s very important to use the name Blobs, rather than he or she, as they are not white males or females, but genderless and colourless. Ask questions such as, “How do you think this Blob feels?” or “Which Blob do you think is the saddest and why?” This neutral term includes everyone and keeps the Blob tool as open as possible. Members of your group may continue to ascribe gender to the Blobs, but as long as you set the lead, most of the group will adopt your expressions. The Blobs in the Tree are interacting too, as all groups do. They are also interacting with the Tree. They have placed themselves on the Tree, or are trying to get on the Tree. Their places are important to consider. Some people only feel able to select from the Blobs at the bottom of the Tree, whilst others tend to fly straight to the top! The selection of a Blob is a snap-shot of how that person is feeling at that very moment. Some people record a date next to the image to retain that for their work. In talking at a conference of educational psychologists, Ian discovered that many use the Blob Tree sheet as a visual assessment tool, recording their client’s responses straight onto the sheet.
The Grass: under the Tree, and away from it, is the grass. It conveys being outside the Tree, a place where you might go after climbing out of the Tree. This isn’t necessarily a negative place. After a youth group, a day at work or an evening out with one’s family it is nice to retreat and relax away from the group dynamic. So the grass might simply be that – a place of respite. It can also be a place of opposition to what is going on in the Tree. As such, it is worth exploring what people mean when they say, “I want to be on the grass”. The proximity to the Tree is worth noting as again it gives clues as to how people are feeling at that moment in time.