Propheets (CEDU)

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Propheets was the name for the Large Group Awareness Training seminars used at CEDU. A propheet was a 24 hour workshop. It was named after Khalil Ghbiran's "The Prophet". Passages from the prophet are read at one point in each propheet.

History

During the Wasserman years, there were 7 propheets and two workshops. The propheets employed sleep-deprivation, humiliation, occasional exposure to large variations in temperature, guided imagery, loud and repetitive music, regression therapy, bizarre ritual, and forced emoting. This normally resulted in a feeling of euphoria and exhaustion after the experience. Certain propheets actually caused students to temporarily lose their voice.

Propheets contained exercises which used metaphor to convey their message. Each propheet, with the exception of the last one, also consisted of disclosures and a lengthy rap (see below) where everyone in the room was spoken to. The students are "allowed" what appears on the surface to be a one hour nap the next day. However, staff walk amongst the kids as they try to fall asleep on the floor, and when they notice that the last one has fallen asleep, they wake up the students and tell them that the hour nap is over. After you complete a propheet, you are sworn to secrecy. However, you are allowed to speak to students who have already been through the experience.

List of propheets

The Truth propheet

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Name Exercise Description
The Truth Battle of the Bands The icebreaker in the Truth Propheet. The peer group is divided up into bands, and each band is required to lip-synch and perform an assigned song. The songs are supposed to allude to specific behavior which was considered negative. The students were divided up into which song corresponded most to their behavior. For example, all of the students who were perceived to be manipulative would be in a band together and have to perform a song such as "Snake Charmer". For the students who were perceived to be loners and kept to themselves, they would be grouped together and have to perform something like "The Wanderer". The exercise essentially made broad, sweeping generalizations regarding the real or imagined behavior of the members of the peer group.
The Pendulum A tool in the truth propheet. The passage from The Prophet that is focused on in the truth is "To the extent that you feel your sorrow, you will feel your joy." This is depicted in the truth propheet by a pendulum, which swings from one side, which is sorrow, to the other, which is joy. Whatever Gibran's intent, CEDU ideology translated this as meaning that, in order to feel any happiness, the student must be made as miserable as possible first.
Your Chrome Ball A tool in the truth. Your chrome ball was supposed to represent you at birth; pure and unsullied. Students are told that throughout their life, their ball has been dirtied and tarnished by things such as bad experiences, people treating you poorly, and you doing things you felt ashamed of. (Which leads into disclosures in the disclosure circles. See below.)
Disclosure Circles An exercise in the truth propheet. Students are divided up into two groups, one each run by a staff. They sit around in a circle, and everybody goes around and confesses to things that they have done in the past that they feel bad about, in addition to copping out to any dirt. As the night progresses, students are pressured to come up with more and more dirt, even if the student says they don't have any more. This often leads to fabricated confessions.
Your Truth A tool/concept from the truth propheet. "Your truth" meant what you were, essentially. Part of the CEDU ideology was to oversimplify identity by assigning your persona basic labels. Some examples of assigned truths would be "honest" or "beautiful".
Your Lie This is the other side of the "your truth" label, and was assigned to you in the rap section of the truth propheet. After your indictment, which normally consisted of how you deny your truth every day, you are assigned what is "your lie", which was normally a blunt and brutal accusation of your negative behavior. Some examples of this are "Liar", "Victim", "Cripple", "Slut" and "Faggot".

The Childrens propheet

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Name Exercise Description
The Childrens Bubble Gum Blowing Contest The ice breaker in the children's propheet. Pretty self-explanatory. Students are given a piece of gum and whoever blows the largest bubble wins. For some bizarre reason, this contest was performed on one's knees.
Your Little Girl/Boy A tool/concept from the children's propheet. This propheet was geared towards getting the students in touch with their "inner child." One way of doing this was to give more tangibility to the concept. As such, students are required to come up with a name for their little boy or girl. This name was supposed to be a pet name your parents had for you when you were young. This tool also falls into the category of "identity labels" that the CEDU propheets employed.

The Brothers Keeper propheet

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Name Exercise Description
The Brothers Keeper Lugs Part of the ice breaker in the Brother's Keeper propheet. A student is required to come up with a short performance that makes fun of themselves, and act it out for the entire peer group. This is done repeatedly, since every time a new member of the peer group comes up with and performs their "lug", all of the previous students who have already come up with theirs have to do it again. (Similar structure to the "12 days of Christmas" song.) It could also simply mean the act of a staff member imitating you and making fun of how you behave.
The Circle An exercise in the brother's keeper propheet. Two students are singled out from the rest of the peer group. These students are normally the omegas of the group, (i.e. the bottom of the pecking order) and as such, command the least respect. The rest of the peer group is instructed to close ranks and form a circle, with everyone facing inside and linking arms. The two ostracized students are then required to try to break into the circle any way they can, while the rest of the peer group has to try to keep them from getting inside. The purpose was to provide a metaphor for 1. How you keep people on the outside every day. and 2. How you keep yourself on the outside every day.
Turning your back An exercise from the brother's keeper. Students are paired up and take turns turning their back on each other.
Pushing away An exercise from the brother's keeper. Students are paired up and take turns shoving each other. The exercise was supposed to signify how you push people away every day.

The Dreams

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Name Exercise Description
The Dreams Your Nightmare One of the exercises in the dreams propheet. The concept was that your nightmare was how you were before you came to RMA... i.e. your image. Students are given a black crayon and a piece of paper, and are required to draw a picture of themselves as this nightmare. After everyone is finished, they all mill around and look at each others' drawings. Then they are required to sit in front of their own nightmare for an extended amount of time and ruminate over it. They are then talked to about it in the propheet rap.
Your Dream This is the identity label from the dreams propheet. Prior to being bestowed with this label, there is an exercise where students are required to cry about when their dream died. You are then supposed to come up with what your dream was. It was then written on a golden paper star.
Jaws The icebreaker in the dreams propheet. The dreams propheet had an unpopular reputation, and was not a favorite of the students. As such, it held a certain level of intimidation. (But not as much as the I Want To Live). The faculty found it humorous to start out the propheet by playing jaws music. A can was placed in the middle of the room, and each student had to mime to the jaws music, and interact with the can in some humorous fashion.
Additional information is needed, because there was more to this exercise than this contributor remembers. There was apparently a piece of paper the student had to pull out of the can which had something written on it, but this contributor is uncertain if this information is correct, as well as what happened after the paper was drawn.

The I Want to Live propheet

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Name Exercise Description
The I Want to Live Pillow Pounding Students are separated into groups of 5 or 6. One at a time each student had to be up on their hands and knees with the rest of their group surrounding them in a circle. The rest of the group pushed down on their back while the student had to push to stay up. Then they placed a pillow in front of them and the student had to repeatedly "pound" the pillow.

The Values propheet

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Name Exercise Description
The Values The Weasel Probably one of the most frustrating, infuriating exercises in the values propheet. Students are required to have a discussion about what makes humans unique to all other creatures, for example, a weasel. What ensues is a huge argument among the entire peer group as to what quality differentiates humans from weasels.
Containment An exercise used in the Values propheet and the I & Me workshop. A student lays on their back, and is directed through a guided imagery experience, via a staff member whispering in their ear. Often very emotional and upsetting. After the experience, the student normally feels an intense connection with that staff member. (See: Stockholm Syndrome)

The Imagine propheet

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Name Exercise Description
The Imagine Rock Bottom A term/concept from the imagine propheet. Rock bottom.. or "who you were, rock bottom" was another term for inner child, as the imagine propheet deals with the inner child concept and regression similar to the children's propheet.
The John Lennon song "Imagine" is used throughout this propheet and by the of the "exercises" you were supposed to have reached your rock bottom.
An exercise in the imagine propheet. This replaced the rap that occurs in the other six propheets. Staff initiate the exercise by asking "Who has something to say?" Students then engage in disorganized arguing. Unlike a rap, there is little to no structure, and is more of an open melee. Staff never reveal to the students what the purpose of the exercise is, so there is a significant amount of confusion and frustration through the entire exercise. It is unknown at this point whether the game in the imagine is similar in any way to Synanon's the game.

List of Workshops

The workshops employ similar techniques, but the structure is very different, and the intensity is stepped up significantly.

I & ME workshop

The core concept from the I & Me workshop. "I" was supposed to represent your thinking, which stifled your true self. "Me" were your feelings, which was being oppressed by "I". All exercises in the workshop are geared towards this single idea, and each one depicted the internal struggle between I and Me in a different way. During the I & Me reunion, (see below) it is explained that ideally, I & Me should work together, but Me should be in charge of I.

Exercises Description
The fight An exercise from the I & Me workshop. Students lay down on the floor, bite down on a towel, grab the ends, and yank upwards, pulling as hard as they can, while simultaneously attempting to bite down tightly with their teeth. They are goaded on my staff, the other students in the peer group, and students from the peer group above, who come in specifically for that exercise to support. (Note: it is normally surprising and rather shocking to see students other than those in your peer group in a propheet or workshop. This happens two times in the CEDU program. One in the values propheet, and the other in the I & Me.) The students are required to maintain the tension between their fists and their teeth throughout the entire Rocky song. Then they are allowed to rest, before going through round two. This was one of the exercises which symbolized the fight between I and Me.
In the late 90's, the fight was slightly modified. Though the goal and the experience of the game remain largely the same, students no longer bite down on a towel and pull upward as hard as they can. Instead, the towel is wrapped behind the students shoulders, the student grabs the ends of the towel and proceeds to throw punches as hard as possible while still holding the towel, as if the student were in an actual fight. So as not to cause injury to the neck, a staff and/or fellow student would hold the student down flat firmly by their chest.
The Fanstastic Voyage An exercise from the I & Me. It essentially takes the concept of the containment exercise and elaborates on it. Students lie on their back on a mattress and a staff whispers in their ear, using guided imagery. At one point, the student is required to begin flailing on the mattress, kicking their legs and beating their arms, in addition to crying/running your anger. At the end of that part, they are "brought down" via listening to somewhat soothing music, while the staff who has been whispering to them uses guided imagery which describes them as flying.

The summit workshop

This seminar was based on the Large Group Awareness Training seminar Lifespring. Wasserman purchased the rights to use the workshop at his own school, in addition to adding his own exercises.

Exercises Description
The Red/Green Game An exercise in the Summit. Otherwise known as the "Red/Black Game" in Lifespring. The peer group is divided into two groups, A and B. The groups are then put in two different rooms. Each group is told that they are going to play a game and the object is to win, while working as a team and working together. The game consists of several rounds. In each round, each group is supposed to vote on a color, either red or green. Choosing a particular color will result in a shifting of points for both your group and the other group. The following is a description on how the points are distributed.

If group a and group b both vote red, both groups lose five points.

If group a votes red and group b votes green, group a gains five points and group b loses five points.

If group a votes green and group b votes red, then group a loses five points and group b gains five points.

If group a and group b both vote green, both groups gain three points.

The object of the game is for both teams to end up voting green consistently, the message being that things should be a green/green win/win situation. Followed by the question "What if no one was out to get you?" During the exercise, the group is goaded on by the staff to vote for the wrong color, sometimes refusing to accept a vote if they think that the students have figured out how the game works too early. Students are later shamed about the fact that they tried so hard to "get" the other team.

Giver/Taker An exercise in the summit workshop. Each student goes around the circle, looks in the eyes of the person sitting down, and tells them whether they think that person is a giver or a taker. Every student was required to keep a tally of both the giver and taker votes they received, as well as circling their own vote.
The Lifeboat An extremely grueling exercise in the summit workshop. The exercise itself is actually a variation of a rather innocuous, team building exercise that is used in the regular world. However, the summit version is significantly darker.

The exercise begins by students laying down on their backs, closing their eyes and being subjected to guided imagery which describes that they are all on a sailboat. The fantasy is brought short when the students are told that the boat is on fire and it is sinking, and for the kids to open their eyes and sit up. The lights are then turned on and anywhere from 2 to 4 chairs have been situated against a wall, depending on how large the peer groups is. The students are then told that the chairs are the lifeboat, and those are the only seats. At that point, the staff instructs the students to fight for the chairs. The fight lasts for a lengthy amount of time, and is eventually broken up by the staff. Everyone is then required to get up in front of the group and explain why they deserve one of the seats in the lifeboat. After that, the peer group stands up and forms a circle. It is explained that each student is to take a turn, and go around to every person in the circle, look them in the eyes, and give them a "you live" or a "you die" vote. You are only allowed to give out four "you live" votes. You are also allowed to vote for yourself. Every time a person receives a "you live" vote, they shout out their name followed by "lives". Staff will then put a hash mark next to that students name on an easel and pad. If a peer group was particularly large, (i.e. 20 or more people), this exercise could take hours, which was very wearying and created stress on the body, since the students are standing for a long amount of time. After this part is completed, the votes are tallied and the people who were chosen sit in the chairs. The rest of the peer group sits opposite them on the floor, i.e. "water". Each student then has five minutes to say their piece, such as giving the survivors messages to relay to their families and loved ones. The survivors also say their goodbyes to the people who didn't get enough "you live" votes.

The exercise is ended by the students being given a writing assignment describing how they cast "you die" votes every day.

The Funeral This is a follow-up to the lifeboat exercise, and is done the next day. It begins by the staff telling the students that the lifeboat sunk, so everyone drowned. The participants are then required to write their own epitaph, and read it in front of the group. After the student finishes, they go and lay on their backs on the floor. When everyone is prone, students are subjected to guided imagery that they are getting buried. This exercise in the 70s also involved the students getting covered in comforters, simulating dirt being thrown on top of them. However, too many students were panicking and vomiting, so that practice was abolished. During the guided imagery part, staff will occasionally call out names of people who have died that individuals in the peer group knew. The staff then states that the students may sit up when, and only when, they are ready to get on with their life.
Your key/contract An exercise in the summit workshop. Each student is to come up with what is known as a "contract." This contract consists of the statement "I am a _________ and _________ man/woman." The student is to then sign it with their name. It is at this point in the workshop where many students change their names, if their current name is associated with their old "image". In most cases, the staff have already chosen out words or at least basic ideas of what should go on each student's contract. As such, the student essentially has to guess what the staff wants their contract to be, as any conflicting or contradictory suggestions will be rejected. Students state their contract by getting up in front of their peer group. What ensues is then a discussion on whether the student's ideas of what the words should be are accurate. Name changes are also discussed. In the summit reunion (see below), each student is given a key, which signifies their contract.
Urban Challenge One of the final exercises in the summit workshop, and done on the last day. Students are told that they are going to participate in an exercise called "walk on the wild side", where they will be going on a quest to make the world a better place. They are all then driven into town, and dropped off at a mall. Prior to this, the students are given several tasks that they must complete while in town within the time span of one hour. The tasks are as follows:
  • 1. Have at least three conversations that include both sexes.
  • 2. Buy food and/or drink for one of them.
  • 3. Exchange your name and address with another one.
  • 4. One of the conversations must be with a person you would usually avoid.
  • 5. Other than the conversations, NO communication from the moment you leave this room until the moment you return to this room.
  • 6. Do not choose anyone under 15 years of age.
  • 7. Do not choose elderly people.
  • 8. Do not choose anyone who is paid to service (waitresses, police, etc.)
  • 9. You cannot tell people you are on a workshop or assignment.
  • 10. All agreements are in effect.
  • 11. On bans from entire peer group.
  • 12. There will be an obvious clock to see.
  • 13. Remember your contract!

Many times, not all of the students completed the required tasks in enough time. They were then considered out of agreement, and needed to come up with ideas on how to get back in agreement. This was normally a set of goals that they needed to accomplish in the school, such as coming down harder in the dorms, doing a celebration with a number of younger students on a particular theme or concept. (A celebration normally consisted of the students having some sort of slumber party in one of the campus buildings and watching movies, while also doing "emotional growth" building exercises like role play.) The other requirement to get back into agreement is to go on a trip at a later date to complete the tasks that you failed to finish the first time.

Later use

When CEDU closed some of the facilities were sold to UHSINC. All references to terms from the old CEDU period were removed and the propheets are now just known as workshops but with somewhat the same contents.

Some employees started their own facilities. Carlbrook, Mount Bachelor Academy and Shortridge Academy were all started by former CEDU employees. They are together with other facilities categorized in the CEDU spin-off category

See also

External Links