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The Facilitator's state affects Participant's state of being

The Learning Combination Lock Model of experience by Colin Beard is a useful way of understanding what we really do in experiential methodology, and why; what we have control over and what we don’t. He refers to the Outer world as Belonging - With whom (in both a human (social) and more than human world of animals, plants, spiritual etc) and Where (places). Doing (experiences). Sensing as a bridge, and the Inner world as Feeling, Thinking and Being (one’s inner world and relationship with the outer world).

I have tried to explain this in my class as he saw it, and I am sure I have messed it up many times! Yet through the repeated describing and explanation of the model, I began to see other things that have great relevance in understanding our role and how we affect what we teach as educators.

The current purpose is to build on 2 aspects that he refers to – People who influence experiences, and Places where experiences happen. Both these have the ability to affect a person’s internal sense of Belonging.

As educators we need to recognize that who we are (not just who we present ourselves to be) in that place of learning has a considerable influence on how and what is learned.

The ‘composition’ of the Facilitator comprises of 3 elements – Her Conditioning, Her Consciousness in the act of Facilitating, and Her Conduct as perceived by the audience. The audience may never know what the educator’s Conditioning and Consciousness is at, but they are certainly responding to her Being and sense of Belonging to that place and community.

What it means to me, is that in my role as an educator, I can never really take myself or anyone else for granted. My sense of Being in that place is affected by whether i am myself interested and engaged in what I am doing, the doubts I may carry about my ability to deliver whatever I am supposed to, my belief in where the group is at in their willingness to involve and participate in what is about to happen, and so on. Whatever that Being may be, I carry it with me, no matter what masks and façades I may use to cover it up.

This Being and Becoming that I carry into the learning space also influences how I Do things in that learning space. For example if I have not prepared and studied enough on the topic of delivery, and I carry that sense of incompetence, I am likely to avoid; even prevent questions from being asked by using my power as the teacher. My sense of insecurity will transfer to the learning space and create a potentially unsafe place of learning.

A classic example would be where the educator is giving the Brief for an activity. It may be long in description, confusing and incomplete. He knows he has messed it up, but not exactly where! The group goes ahead with its understanding of the task, and something completely unexpected emerges as an outcome. Now the Facilitator is in a dilemma! What shall I facilitate for? What options exist? Own up to the group that he messed it up; Jump in and add a restraint or condition he had forgotten; Celebrate the here and now; Restate the Brief with additional conditions as a higher challenge.

At any point the audience is likely to seek clarification. If my Being is afraid of the unknown consequences, the challenge from the group, or how this might affect future business and relationship with the client, the fear will transfer to the group – immediately, or a little later.

How do I then manage my state of Being? The only answer I have currently is:

  • Expand your Consciousness and Stay in the Here and Now.

  • Facilitate what is real currently, and what has actually happened.

  • Breathe

  • Know that this is not going to be the last time this happens! So find humour in the current experience

  • Know what you have to do next time – and prepare better! Not just about the Brief of the activity, but about the topic you are facilitating for.

  • Celebration is also a part of reviewing – focus on what worked for them.

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