The first phase of the Circle of Insight process, to see, requires us to gather the facts and carefully examine the reality in which we exist as social work educators and practitioners, to ask probing questions, and listen well to one another. Consistent with Freire’s liberatory, problem-posing approach to education (Freire, 1970/2000), the Circle’s process does not start with answers, but rather begins with questions, investigation, paying attention, and active listening.
For example, with respect to the issue of immigration in the United States, we might engage this first phase by listening to the stories of immigrants; interviewing organizations serving immigrants; researching immigration data and demographics; asking policy makers and immigration enforcement officials about their work; and investigating the effects of policies on immigrants as well as on the broader culture, economy, and society.
As part of our class, students engaged this phase as it related to immigration and university policy by interviewing university leadership, workers, students, and other members of the university community with respect to treatment and policies affecting immigrant workers and students. In doing so, they observed that the university had not taken a position on becoming a sanctuary school. In their opinion, this was inconsistent with the school of social work and university's stated commitment to social justice.