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Facilitating Workshops

View in full at Seeds for Change

Experience - Reflection - Generalization

This detailed guide comes from Seeds for Change, a training organization operating as a workers cooperative in the UK since 2001. Seeds for Change has supported campaigners and those looking to build just and sustainable alternatives to current exploitative structures. This guide takes you through both the principles and the practical preparation for facilitating workshops, regardless of your prior experience. They have heaps more resources on offer too.

Experience: The experience element of your workshop often takes the most time, and is crucial for learning. Sometimes it’ll be possible to actually do it for real, e.g. making a bike trailer or climbing a tree. At other times you’ll need to create conditions as close as possible to the real deal, for example through using roleplay.

Reflection provides an opportunity for participants to think about what they did and what the effects were. This can be done through building on experiences from the workshop or real life. This might be as simple as checking whether they’ve tied their knot right, exploring how they felt in a role play or considering how they interact with authority figures in their own lives. Make time for a debrief after any roleplay or practical activity and work out in advance what questions would be useful to ask.

Generalisation: Generalising turns our reflections on a specific situation into abstract understanding that can be applied to other contexts. Often this will be integrated into the reflection process. Whenever we think about an experience we automatically start formulating rules or generating ideas for how we might do it next time. For example, when observing that a kestrel is using the wind to hover, you then assume that other kestrels are likely to do the same, and use this information to identify them in future. The generalisation element could also consist of a presentation or demonstration from you – for example showing people how to wire up a circuit before they have a go themselves, or feeding in some extra tips after a debrief. You can reinforce this process by writing down the general rules people have created, or giving people a chance to try the roleplay/practice again and apply the rules – in other words, go round the cycle again.

The organizations navigate and Rhizome have also grown out of Seeds for Change and you’ll find plenty more resources and food for thought on their sites.


Facilitating Workshops
View in full at Seeds for Change