Making the unconscious conscious in facilitation and training

"For years I was the chairman of a working group; I guided young children and organised workshops with youngsters; I assisted youngsters with home work classes and language training. However, it was all done intuitively. We never got didactical methods on how to guide people and groups in their learning proces. However, it worked. I had a passion to do it and had a good relationship with the youngsters in stimulating their personal growth." These were some of the introductions participants shared during the training 'Basic Facilitation Methods' attended by Development Professionals. The training was organised at ICCOenKerkinActie & Togetthere on the 16th and 17th June, 2011 and was led by Simon Koolwijk

Many people already have a lot of skills and knowledge in teaching and transfering knowledge, but are not aware about their capacities. The 'KOLB' learning cycle is an excellent tool in making the unconscious capacities conscious. Eighty percent of training, is composed of facilitation. The trainer asks questions and stimulates people to dig into their tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is the practical and intuitive knowledge people gained through working and life experience. ' Direct experience' is the first phase of the KOLB learning cycle. People become aware of the topic by answering questions. During the second stage, 'Reflecting on the experience' people take a step back and analyse and discuss what they did in the first phase.
During the third phase, 'Generalization of the experience', the unconscious is made conscious by giving significance and meaning to what was discussed in the first two phases. This is the stage where the trainer adds theoretical knowledge or models to what the group discussed. In the fourth stage, 'Applications' the participant applies what was learned in the third stage. The participant has gained 'Conscious Competence'.
According to the brainlearning principles transfer of knowledge is likely to be successfull when:
The trainer makes use of the context (worksituation) or workhistory of the trainee. 80 - 85 % of the training is based on asking questions and facilitation. Only 15 - 20 % is based on transfering information from the trainer to the audience.
The trainer creates a positive learning environment and builds on successes from the past, applies appreciative inquiry.
The trainer creates a safe environment, where people feel safe and comfortable. Space and time for informal contacts is essential. The most practical and valuable information is shared during the informal moments. The formal moments are the platform for the starting process of new behaviour and inspiration.

Other important and crucial factors are the willingness and eagerness of the participants to change. Drive, passion, curiousity and energy are important pré-conditions for the participant to adapt new behaviour. Practical assignments applying the lessons learned within 6 weeks after the training are essential in embedding learning. In case the participant does not get the opportunity of its employer to apply the lessons, than the trainee should have the drive and create the opportunity to apply the lessons. Otherwise valuable lessons get lost. The key challenge for a facilitator or coach, is to get the group or participant into the 'drivers seat'. LSA (Listening, Summarising and Asking in-depth questions) is a helpfull tool to dig deeper into people assumptions about changing and learning. The moments people show emotions, such as anger, sadness, fear and enthousiasm, the facilitator addresses and checks this behaviour and asks what is underneath. Whenever people feel strong emotions, knowledge or lessons sustain.
NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and the book from Anthony Robbins , the Unlimited Power, describes the essential elements what makes people successfull in learning and performing.

The learning theory from Professor Sugata Mitra is a fascinating one. Through the project 'Hole in the Wall', he made computers available for young people in slum areas. Within three days the youngsters became capable in working with the computer without any assistance from trainers or teachers. Sugata Matra tries to show through this project, that people have capacitiets within their group to solve complex problems and make things work with limited outside assistance. The role of the trainer or facilitator is to ask the people challenging questions, which make them active instead of wondering 'Why should I learn this?'.
See video:

Another model for learning is the "Four Stages for Learning Any New Skill". This theory was developed at the Gordon Training International Institute by Noel Burch in the 1970s. The model suggests that individuals are unconscious of their incompetence. As they recognise their incompetence they become conscious of their incompetence. As they recognise their incompetence and have a strong desire to acquire the skill, they get conscious competence. It takes average 6 weeks to adapt new behaviour and it takes more than 10.000 hours to master a profession. This is the stage the skill has become a 'second nature'. The is the stage of 'unconscious competence'.


Popular posts from this blog

Outcome Mapping versus Logical Framework Approach

Sticky wall: A helpfull tool for facilitation!

Outcome harvesting – an excellent tool for evaluating projects in complexity!