I’ve been thinking lately about how I can improve the mentor workshop. One thing I felt bad about last March was just how “teachy” everything was. The courseware was recently slimmed down dramatically, though there was still such pressure to Cover The Material. Part of this came from the primary pilot partner, who stressed the step-by-step, which set the tone for the mentor classes. By the end, I was pretty sad about it, vowing to not let things get so rote in the future.

So what do you do instead? Here’s a list of things kids need to know. How do you let the discoveries come from them? How do you guide them to the truth rather than teaching the tricks? One big difficulty is that students and teachers alike are expecting rote. There’s a real pressure to deliver things in a familiar teachy way, just to have everyone feel like they’re getting somewhere. Having a leading-question approach gets old real quick when you have a room full of blank stares waiting for you to answer your own question, over and over.

So how to do it? How do you guide their discoveries, particularly at the beginning? This is real easy in alternative private US schools, by the way. I’m able to slip into inscrutable Socrates mode quite quickly, and it’s a good thing.

But Haiti … It’s Different. The children are just as smart. They just haven’t been taught it’s all up to them.

3 responses to “T-3 .. Leading, Not Teaching”

  1. Mel Chua says:

    Ooh. I may have missed this somewhere, but is the material for the workshops – or possibly even better yet, a reflection blog post on the teaching approach (I’m not really looking for materials, but approaches to paradigm-shifting people wrt approaches to teaching the way you describe) – available somewhere?

    I teach workshops for college professors trying to get their students into FOSS, and it sounds like K-12ers in Haiti may in some cases be more used to independent thought and exploration than US college students – trying to convey that and cause a thinking shift to happen in a week is tough, and ideas for this are always tremendously welcome.

    Mad props on everything you and Waveplace are doing, by the way. I’ve been following you folks for years with admiration, and wish I was able to come over to trade inspiration in person, but haven’t been able to go out for a Realness Summit yet.

    • teefal says:

      Thanks for your kind words. The guided discovery stuff isn’t really written down, which is at the same time understandable and lamentable. We’ve got tons of video … Whole workshops taped, though haven’t extracted the good stuff yet.

      We’ve got ten days, five hours a day, to change a paradigm (with follow up, of course). As you say, not a lot of time. We do get lucky with true believers though.

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