I think I’m a facilitator. I call myself a facilitator of learning. I have the certificate, I’ve done the training, passed the assessment and been quality assured. And yet this week I wonder if I really am.
I always believed a facilitator of learning helps others learn, supports them, makes it easy, doesn’t interfere, influence or impose. I believe I allow personalized learning with the questions I ask, the activities I design and the programmes I create. And yet, this week I read an article which was entitled “Facilitators beware of content’, and it made me wonder about what I do. I know it was directed at meeting facilitators, but it got me thinking about what I do too. By choosing and using models, theories and research as content when facilitating adult learning, am I really facilitating at all, or am I just teaching in a more facilitative, adult focussed way? Am I still a teacher, but with a posh title?
If I use content I’ve chosen, I’m still making decisions for the learners as to what I think they should learn. I’m still playing the role of someone who believes they know the right content for the learner, who believes they know best. What if I don’t know best? What if the learner actually knows best? What if I trust that they know best, trust that they can make their own decisions? What if I give more power and more decisions to the learners? What if I give more space for the learners to think, create and rather than be filled up and told? What if I design a model of adult learning to recognise the leadership potential in every individual who chooses (yes chooses, not is sent) to attend?
So I’m wondering what this model looks like when the learners in the programme choose the content they want, the skills they need, the understanding they crave. What it looks like when I develop a leadership programme based on ‘the unfathomed human capacity to teach, to learn, to grow.’ What it looks like in the environment where this type of leadership course will flourish and develop.
Sugata Mitra with his ‘Hole in The Wall’ experiments believes in ‘unstoppable learning’, in self-organising, self-promoting, self-sustaining learning environments for developing children’s learning. What if it’s the same for adults? What if I construct this type of leadership learning environment, where adults create their own syllabus, their own content, and master it by teaching and presenting to each other, master it by actually practising leading? What if I truly facilitate this type of leadership programme where leaders learn to lead themselves first? What will I do first? Who will attend? What questions will I ask?
And, most importantly, who will help me make this Style J Leadership programme come alive?