Facilitation is first about creating a spark of interest. Sometimes that spark is created before you even begin with stellar framing. Other times it takes a great stoke at the beginning. Sometimes might take a few hours just to start seeing sparks.
The spark is just the first part, though. The crucial next step is to sense the energy created, and move toward it with the rest of the work. A simple example would be if you were doing a workshop on the solar system, and suddenly the whole group was just fascinated by Saturn. You have to sense that fascination, then move towards it. In the example that probably means spending some extra time on the Saturn portion.
This framework will naturally encourage learning, but there are several obstacles to its ubiquity:
We don’t design for the spark. We just deliver content and if no one is interested, it doesn’t matter and we still have to get through it.
We don’t sense the spark. This is a mindfulness problem. If we’re not present, and aware of what’s happening, you could easily miss sparks.
We don’t move toward the spark. Our sessions are over-planned, rushed and leave no room for meandering. The magic is always unexpected, thus we should be flexible on timing.
Human centered, mindful and flexible. All three are crucial to create sparks and help nurture them within others.
Oftentimes the content isn’t the problem, it’s the format instead. No matter how good the speaker was, 90% of people were going to be disengaged. So the question isn’t “how do we find a better speaker?”
The question is “how do we change the format so that 100% of people are engaged?” If you start from that question, you likely won’t choose a sit and lecture format.
Maybe it’s a series of short activities. Or an interactive challenge in small teams. Either way, it’s always helpful to think of format first, and the “speaker” second.
The problem isn’t your lack of ideas. The problem is your self judgment and your resistance to sharing ideas.
You have ideas floating through your mind all the time. The hard work is not squashing them too early. Once the judgment is lowered, now you can capture the ideas. Then once the ego is lowered, you can release them into the world to be ideas.
It’s important to note that you aren’t your ideas. People criticizing your ideas doesn’t mean they’re criticizing you.
You’re performing a generous act by sharing ideas. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
I work with high school students who are trying to solve big problems. They want to achieve gender equality, fight implicit bias and improve mental health in their schools. But too often, they’re tied down by the system. They need to finish their paper, study for the test or submit an assignment.
We literally have kids standing up with great ideas to solve the biggest issues and we’re telling them to memorize trigonometry functions instead of helping to push their projects forward.
The world is begging for new solutions to these problems. Students have them. But they don’t have the time and space to try it out.
Imagine a different reality. For the student who is writing a children’s book to address implicit bias. Her english class is about storybook writing, and developing compelling characters. Her art class is about drawing the scenes, and using color to convey emotions. Her computer science class is about developing a website, and games to accompany the book. Her economics class is focused on the book industry, and how to breakeven as an indy author.
Can you imagine a more empowering and transformative learning experience?
That’s where the world is going. It has to be. Because if it isn’t, we have no hope.
A passion project isn’t an afterthought. It is the thought.
Dual School is a ten week program where students from public, private and charter high schools pursue passion projects, connect with experts and take real action. To celebrate their work, we host a public showcase and invite over one hundred people including parents, siblings, community members, business leaders and more.
We have students tackling big problems like mental health, sustainable energy and STEM education. During the Exhibition, students lead workshops, give talks, show videos, display art and explain their prototypes. It’s an amazing way for them to engage an authentic audience and gain support for the next phase of their project. Join us at 5:00pm on May 22 at 1313 Innovation for a night full of inspiration and student agency.
Check out some of the photos from the fall cohort’s exhibition and RSVP on our Facebook event!
I think it’s bizarre when people say they can “fall back on an education.” It seems to imply that education isn’t helpful to whatever else you were going to do.
Instead of getting an education you can “fall back on,” why not get one that will help you leap forward?
When I went to California in March of 2018 I had the honor of speaking at Google in front of 300 students from around the world. These students are making change at their universities to improve their innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems. As campus leaders, many of these students host events to teach, connect and engage. Every event is a magical opportunity, yet we so often find ourselves awkwardly exchanging business cards or yawning through irrelevant speeches.
That’s why Matt and I created this talk. To help event designers everywhere think about how to make room for special moments.
We outline a few experimental events we’ve run in the past year. Events like Book in a Day, Networking Event for Introverts and Rogue 20k Passions. Then we dig into what made them so special, and how you can leave room for magic in your events. I hope it’s helpful: Making Space for Amazing Moments
Sometimes we confuse the problem of “I don’t know where to start” with the more important problem of “I don’t think the idea I have of where to start is good enough.”
The latter is honest. The latter we can work with. Once we see the idea, we can tweak it, and make it better. The former is just an excuse for not sharing work that we don’t think is perfect. It’s putting a layer between us and the truth.
Maybe you do know where to start. You probably know exactly to do. The problem is the self judgment. What potential could we set free if you relax that judgment and let your ideas into the wild?
Many students have a goal of launching a mobile app. Typically, these cost tens of thousands of dollars because of the rare skill set required to develop them. Thus, their goal is feasible, but ends up being a long term goal, rather than the short term task they originally expected. But, thankfully there’s a better way.
I just discovered Marvel, a mobile application to help people build clickable prototypes in a matter of minutes. Students can download the app for free, and use their suite of tools to make clickable apps. You won’t be able to get any backend functionality like storing data, or creating user profiles. But, you’ll get something that feels pretty real to a user.
I heard about the app yesterday and I told everyone I saw. I’m excited to explore the possibilities!
Somehow on our busiest days waiting gets in the way. Whether we’re expecting a light to turn green, or hoping to get an email, we find ourselves impatiently refreshing our inbox and wishing things would happen faster.
Why not use waiting periods as a time to breathe?
Next time you find yourself frustrated by waiting, reframe it as an opportunity to pause. Pauses are scarce in our busy lives. Welcome them when they come.