Regional Director East Africa (Ethiopia), DVV International
True to the nature and intent of the article, it captured me right from the first paragraph to reflect on myself in two ways – both as a trainer/facilitator and as a student/participant in learning processes. I will therefore also present my comments on this article in two ways, namely 1) reflecting on a more personal level (practice what you preach) and 2) how can the contents of this article be useful in the work we do with communities, facilitators, trainers and ultimately achieving our project/programme goals and objectives.
I used to say I am a better facilitator/trainer than I am a student/participant. I tend to become bored easily, silently may critique the trainer/facilitator’s approach and/or techniques and views on the subject matter and once I captured the essence of the matter and thought how I could use it in my own work, I would find it hard to be mentally fully present in the workshop or training process. So, yes I confess I am a ‘difficult’ participant/student/learner. This is a reflection in itself – and I cannot simply critique the people who trained me. I have to admit that I was fortunate to be exposed and trained by the some of the best in my field – and maybe that also contributed to my intolerance. In short I will still have to do some reflective practice on myself as a participant/student/learner. That in itself links with my role as a long experienced trainer/facilitator – both in training technical contents/subject matter, but also conducting process oriented facilitation – which requires even more reflexivity, because you have to think ‘on your feet’ as new issues emerge, or in other words ‘reflection-in-action’. Therefore, no matter how much experience you have as an adult educator, the contents of this article remains relevant and a reminder for all of us.
The fact that the article does not only argue the principles of reflexivity, but actually presents practical ways to foster it, is much appreciated. The stages of reflection (before, during and after), coupled with suggested strategies to foster this practice amongst adult educators through the use of reflective journals, critical group discussion, role play and case studies add value and immediate use in our work.
To facilitate processes of learning we train trainers (ToT), who then train facilitators (ToF) who will train community members. We are always limited in time, resources and working with constraints in terms of capacity and experience. The result is that the so-called ‘softer’ side of facilitation techniques and creating inclusive learning environments are not always receiving the attention it deserves. The article made me rethink how we incorporate reflexivity (before, during and after) in our training processes and contents (e.g. giving more time to role-plays), helping trainers and facilitators to prepare better lesson plans and considering these principles, how to keep a journal during their training processes and also how can we use case studies during monthly and quarterly review meetings with facilitators and trainers to reflect not only on contents and results achieved, but on the facilitation and learning processes.
These are important reflections and practical tools for the world we live in and as adult educators the roles we can play to ensure we build capacity of trainers and facilitators who can use these tools in their training and facilitation processes to create a better world.
Follow the ICAE Virtual Seminar also here.