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Facilitating ‘Others’ Meaningfully

Over the past month or more, i have had many experiences (2 x DEEP, 2 Raccoon Circles) of trying to help others understand and differentiate ACTIVITY and EXPERIENCE. I think many people got it! Yet it was a struggle for me to articulate it, and i always wondered why people found it so difficult. No, i’m not trying to show off!

So this is my new understanding!:

  • Facilitators get rather involved / excited in the activity itself, with an imminent danger of rescuing the group because anything else would be a failure (for group and F (hereafter stands for Facilitator, and P for Participant).

  • Facilitators don't know what to look for.

  • Facilitators don't really think through what they are doing the activity for.

  • Facilitators know very little about the topic they want to facilitate! Aha! That’s the big one! (i think). Lets take this a little further.

This is what i have seen so far during the sessions.

  • Facilitators choose an activity

  • Decide what topic / theme it might be relevant for

  • Run the activity

  • Fumble!

Interestingly, most people i have seen don’t fumble with the questions themselves – which we believe is Facilitation. The questions come out alright, but they appear irrelevant or badly timed or meaningless in the moment. Why?

They know very little about the subject / theme / topic itself!

These are the most commonly addressed topics with adults and children:

  • Decision Making

  • Collaboration

  • Leadership

  • Teaming

  • Problem-solving

  • Confidence / self esteem

  • Empathy

  • Self awareness

  • Goal setting

  • Risk-taking

  • Responsibility

Ask yourself:

  1. How much do I know about these subjects?

  2. Am I aware of any models?

  3. What is the psychology behind these behaviours?

  4. Whats the theory behind making this happen?

  5. What is the thinking behind these behaviours?

  6. How do these behaviours play out in group situations?

  7. Is there a way to develop new skills around these behaviours?

If we got these questions answered (through books, google, reading, etc), i think we would know what to look for, and therefore what to ask. We will be able to connect activity to experience more meaningfully.

I also think this is the one big reason why the quality of our work is often poor. Many of us lack the ability to connect the experience to the theory and models, so we leave a lot of loose ends for us, as well as the groups we work with. So let go some of these:

  • I don’t learn from reading!

  • Reading is such a drag.

  • Theory is boring.

  • I don’t understand from the written word

  • Give me the questions i will ask them.

We really need to begin to educate our own minds before we can attempt to educate others, otherwise we will always live in a world of ACTIVITY, not EXPERIENCE.

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