Over the last few years, I found myself called upon three times to draw up a 'river of life' presenting a pictorial narrative of my development with important people and events noted and acknowledged along the way. The first one I did was at the start of my Msc in Human Ecology in September 2008 with the Centre for Human Ecology at the University of Strathclyde, and if not currently lost is certainly mislaid. The second one I did is shown above and was created at the start of the Training of Teachers course I did with Designed Visions. The third is shown below and was created in January 2010 on a Diploma induction day with Graham Burnett and Hannah Thorogood.
Being the kind of person I am, I wanted to know where this technique came from and have traced it back to the work of the theologian James W Fowler. In the Manual For Faith Development Research by James W. Fowler, et. al. the technique is presented as "The Life Tapestry Exercise" and its provenance is given thus:
The exercise entitled "The Unfolding Tapestry of My Life" (see Appendix 7.2) was originally developed for use in some of the workshops conducted by the Center for Research in Faith and Moral Development. It draws on the work of Levinson (1978), Progoff (1975; 1980; 1983), and others, as well as faith development theory.
The references given in that quote are to these books:
Levinson, D. J. (1978). The Seasons of a Man's Life. New York: Ballantine Books.
Progoff, I. (1975). At a Journal Workshop. New York: Dialogue House Library.
Progoff, I. (1980). The Practice of Process Meditation. New York: Dialogue House Library.
Progoff, I. (1983). Life-Study: Experiencing Creative Lives by the Intensive Journal Method. New York: Dialogue House
Daniel (D.J.) Levinson was a psychologist, and one of the founders of the field of Positive Adult Development. Dr Ira Progoff meanwhile was an American psychotherapist, best known for his development of the Intensive Journal Method.
Having this kind of context is very useful for me as a learner, although I am aware that my cognitive style and desire for this kind of context may work against the lived experience of just doing an exercise and feeling the results. I do have a tendency to over-intellectualization!