Monday, December 21, 2015

Book Review: The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections from Social Justice Educators

OK, I’m going to get all academic on you now and recommend a text book.

I can hear you now, “Great, Paul. Just what we want to do at the end of the year.” Give me a moment to explain…wow, tough crowd. :)

I’m pissed these days. No specific reason, just a sense of blah that has carried over for the past couple of months. I know one of the symptoms at least. The news. The never ending detail of stupidity, hate, and all that is wrong in the world.

In past book reviews, I have often shared my opinion yet also tried to hold space for different opinions knowing that “I don’t know, what I don’t know.” Yes, a little Johari’s Window for you Institute graduates. That’s hard to do. Hard to realize that I don’t know everything even with all the degrees I have, seminars I have attended, books I have read, speakers I have heard. Go figure.

So I end up asking this one question…How do we have conversations that matter? How do we start to really talk to one another in dialogue and stop yelling? How do we stop “unfriending” people on Facebook because they think differently than we do? (Like that makes a statement or something.)

Anyway, we are planning the retreat for our Institute Co-Lead Facilitators. This subject of how to hold conversations that matter is part of our focus. In particular, how do you create space for these amazing and talented people to have these conversations? Heck, if these people can’t demonstrate how to dialogue, disagree, learn, and share, who can? I mean really!

So, I turned to my graduate school work and some of the volumes I have collected over the years related to facilitating space for conversations. One of my favorites is The Art of Effective Facilitation: Reflections from Social Justice Educators. So many great chapters on holding conversations that matter and how we as educators (yes, I’m including you LeaderShapers as educators) can create more of those spaces.

Regardless of how passionate you are about social justice issues, you will find some great suggestions on how you can facilitate conversations that need to happen. Maybe even happen when you are around your family over the next couple of weeks. In fact, I bet if we were to start with those that are closest to us (we all have that Uncle…) perhaps we do some of the work that so desperately needs to be done.

I’m working hard to channel my being pissed off into action. I’m going to do so by getting better at creating space for conversations that STILL are not happening (yep, capital letters are probably a sign that I’m pissed).

I invite you to do the same thing. Perhaps then, we can look forward to a new year where we quit yelling AT each other and start to talk TO each other.

Of course, in the mean time, I will keep lighting candles, taking deep breaths, and listening to smooth jazz…

Hope you have a wonderful new year.


No comments: