The course I taught was, finally, a success. It took a lot to reach people, to get the concepts across, to get them to take ownership of their learning, their class, and their process. My colleague and I didn’t break through until the class was about two thirds complete. The final classroom activity showed that they had learned. I sense that we set their feet on a more fruitful path. They seemed motivated to continue.
How gratifying to work so hard and have them thank us for the experience! It was fun to see people start to question, speak up, challenge, notice, get creative, and make connections. They began to take responsibility for themselves, think and see differently. Fabulous! (For examples, see student and other testimonials)
I love to facilitate group learning. It’s tough to figure out what will work for THIS group. Whatever worked the last time could fall flat now. The mix of people and their skills, knowledge, experiences, needs, moods, and immediate circumstances vary. Any single factor can make a huge difference. Change several factors and it’s like going into a dark fun house where the corridors have been changed.
The relationship between student and teacher, participant and facilitator fascinates me. How can teachers tap the desire for learning, beyond the habit of acquiring facts or techniques that can be parroted or aped, which some call training? So often the challenge is to have participants take responsibility for the success of the program, whether a workshop or an advanced degree. Somewhere along the path, student came to mean a passive vessel to be filled with whatever the all-knowing and powerful teacher says is right. Success, in that mindset, is the teacher’s responsibility.
I’ve seen and been the facilitator who does a forced march through a well designed course, on the assumption that covering the material is the same as the participants’ learning. It’s tougher to adjust, be questioned, and be flexible. Teaching is not about content only. It is about the person or group that will use the information. Learning or development is fundamentally about liberation, unlocking the potential of this person or group to discover and use ideas and previously hidden or unknown talents in unpredictable ways. It can seem much easier to control inputs. Yet the magic of helping others learn is not just that they get something “right” but that they get themselves more fully. There is nothing to compare to the light that shines when a person or group has tapped into their potential. They know they are different, expanding, shining out, blooming. How marvelous! What an honor to be part of that process.
· Do you enter a learning situation as an active or passive participant? How do you know?
· When have you felt expanded by a learning situation? How did it happen? What did you and the instructor bring?
· What learning opportunities are you creating in your organization? What would support you in building learning for development into your organization?
· What if we managed our relationships with friends, co-workers, managers, staff, leaders, followers as a co-created learning opportunity? What could we unleash?