The Socrates cafe would take place in the church setting. I assembled three randomly selected individuals and kindly asked them to participate in a discussion. I made sure that the three participants fit in the classification of old, young and middle aged. The three age groups would help the discussion by providing diverse points of view. I then introduced myself to the group and gave my intention to involve them in the topic of “Do people become more mature with time or with more experiences?”
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I then familiarized the group to my three rules of discussion, which they were expected to adhere. The rules were that one should allow the other member to finish talking before giving their outlook as everyone had their own point of view. The second rule was that the members would not criticize the point of views of another before the discussion sets ended. The main reason for this is to ensure that no participant is intimidated and that an observation is not scrubbed off before discussions are held.
If a question was to be asked by the members, the question ought to have been an open ended question or one that would be seeking further clarification. I then explained that the reason for the rules was to allow all points of view to be brought forward, by preventing the domination of one individual in the discussion. We also agreed that the end of the discussion was not supposed to change anyone’s point of view.
As the discussion progressed, the three began to build up trust where the members became free with each other. They freely asked for clarifications and were intrigued with the life experiences of each other. This helped the discussion run smoothly and with no sad incident. Each of the three shared their life experiences that they believed had contributed to their maturity level. The discussion would take place in sets. All members would give their experience for which they believed was a measure of maturity.
However, a second party was allowed to deliver the judgment on one’s level of maturity in handling the different situations discussed. Such a judgment would be delivered upon the conclusion of each set of experiences shared. The entire discussion was taped which allowed me to have a verbatim transcript by the end of the discussion. The tape had been an issue at the onset of the discussion with the elderly member feeling that her statements might be used for the media. This was an idea that she opposed. A major task on my side was that of convincing the elderly participant that whatever we were involved in was mainly personal and it would never be revealed to the public. The discussion continued with my assurance that this was to be used for my class work.
The following opinions are derived from the verbatim transcript.
Does maturity come with age or from life experiences?
- Maturity is not in the age of a person. Everyone has to age with time, but this does not always translate into maturity. There are several signs that are used to tell the maturity level of an individual. There are cases where one can be old but not mature.
- There are cases where the elderly act immaturely while there are young people who act maturely.
- The experiences of life have a significant role in determining ones degree of maturity. It is these experiences that should in the ideal situation lead one to maturity. It is crucial to have a keen look on an individual’s daily experiences.
- Age brings about experiences. The more the number of years the higher the level of experience for an individual.
- Life’s experiences do not always translate into maturity as there are still some elderly people who act immaturely.
- A repeated mistake is an act of immaturity even though the past mistake ought to act as learning platforms.
- Personality could also lead one to be deemed as mature. Personality develops in an individual depending on the environment in which one grows.
- Maturity and boring are not synonymous. It simply means knowing the right thing to do at every situation. A mature teenager can act like an idiot in some situations but at the end of it still be referred to as a mature individual.
- Maturity is a mental attitude that allows one to learn from past experiences and to avoid the repeat of mistakes.
- Finally, one cannot judge oneself. Only a second party can determine one’s immaturity. This is because, in most cases, one justifies their actions.
The group members reinforced each other’s ideas. The discussion was based on the life experiences of the members, and the scenarios that the individuals had experienced in their lives and from friends and relatives. This exploration into the lives of friends provides an opportunity to evaluate the actions of other people, not in the group. We kept the discussion open, and maintained a “trust space.” This allowed for confidence and thus, honesty in describing their experiences.
The participants were substantially involved in the discussion. The discussion took longer than I had promised the participants at the beginning. The elderly member, who was critical of the younger generation, seemed to have been drawn towards the concept that not all aged people are mature. By the end of the discussion, this particular participant was open to the likelihood that there were some mature teenagers. This discovery enabled the elderly participant to engage fully in the discussion.
From this, Socrates cafe revealed that maturity is a product of one’s life experiences. The mere fact that age brings to us these experiences does not necessitate that age brings with it maturity. Rather, it is the lesson taken from these experiences that could lead to maturity. The application of the lessons learnt in similar situations of the future is the real definition of a mature individual. The environment, in which one is exposed to, determine the experiences that one has acquired.
A conservative environment limits one to exposure to experiences. An adventurous lifestyle provides numerous platforms for one to learn. Likewise, the personality traits of an individual can be evaluated to determine the degree of maturity. Such personality is a factor of the environment. From the discussion, it was evident that the elderly had a poor perception of the younger generation in terms of their levels of maturity. This perception changed at the end of the discussion. A conservative approach may be preferred to an adventurous one. Experience and an ability to learn from such was the true determinant of the level of maturity.