Friday, June 13, 2008

Why Facilitation?

Why not training, teaching, coaching or instructing?

I have been an aggressive advocate of facilitation in adult education ever since I was in a very poorly led class at a University on teaching adults. We were literally told not to ask questions, not to "try to reinvent the wheel" and to just do essays on what was in the textbooks - we were also told not to challenge the professor as he was close to retirement and had already put up with it for too long! Imagine!

Interestingly enough, many of my classmates were fine with these guidelines as they then clearly knew expectations and knew what they had to do to get top marks -they were right, it made it easy to succeed if success was based on good grades.

but.... I was one of those annoying students who actually wanted to learn something practical and relevant to my world. This wasn't working for me and when I challenged the status quo - the teacher's and institution's response turned me off from expecting my learning to take place at much so that I became a "difficult student" .

On the flip side, I happened to take another course where the teacher set us up for success the moment we walked through the door, and let us know that he trusted that all we knew from life was real and relevant to his class and that an open-mind was all we needed - not a textbook and not obedience to his ideals. He was still controlling, discipline driven, challenging and worked us hard - but for me it was worth it as every day after class I could walk away with at least one thing relevant to me. He FACILITATED my learning.... and my motivation for more.

That experience sold me - and I have been an advocate of facilitated training ever since. Not just fun activities in class, not just a pleasant environment, not just high energy classes but truly facilitated learning - where the answers and the content come into the class with the learners and is not invested in the trainer in the front of the room or the material we are teaching from.

We ask all our trainers at Advance Corporate Training to master facilitation - and we offer to the class our skills in bringing them out and freeing them to try things in new ways... we don't want to be experts because the learners already are... our job is to create change , not impart wisdom.

I am a facilitator....

I am change....

Here are some definitions of facilitation from the web... what do you think?

Definitions of facilitation on the Web:

A process of decision-making guided by a facilitator who insures that all affected individuals and groups are involved in a meaningful way

Involves the use of techniques to improve the flow of information.

The condition of having something made easier. (Like a catalyst in that facilitation makes easy a previously difficult activity with little or no extra energy expended on the part of the group participants.)

The promotion or hastening of any natural process; the reverse of

Coordinating rather than leading an exercise so that all group members are encouraged to participate in the discussion or

Helping others think through what they want and organise themselves to achieve

Facilitation in business, organizational development (OD) and in consensus decision-making refers to the process of designing and running a successful meeting. (business)

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