Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Art of Effective Facilitation: The Evolution of Social Justice Education and Facilitation

Chapter 1

Okay, here is part 2 of chapter 1. It was interesting, and there's an interesting thing I want to note at the end of this blog about the book in general. But I'm gonna leave that for last. For now, I'm going to take a look at the framework the book writes about. It has three dimensions, or I'd draw it for you! If you look at it at angle so that you can see height, width, and depth, you can see that it's cut into two layers vertically, two layers deep, and three horizontal layers.

I'll talk about the height first. The top layer is broken into six blocks, if you will. All six blocks are the intersection of three sections. The whole top layer is conscious. So, for example the front left block is the intersection of conscious, behaviors, and individual. Each of the six blocks has a different combination of elements in them. The second layer, height-wise, is unconscious. And the bottom left front block is unconscious, behaviors, and individual. Depth wise, we have a front group of six and a back group of six. The front group is behaviors and the back group is attitudes. So for example, the back right bottom block is unconscious, attitudes, and societal. The last group of blocks is the horizontal grouping. There are three blocks across, and they are individual, institutional, and societal. There are a total of twelve possible combinations of these blocks, and each addresses a different type of oppression. We talked about this model in my RAPP group, and I found it fascinating. We even had an activity, led by Brice, where they drew the grid on the floor of conscious and unconscious on one axis, and individual, institutional, and societal. There was also a place to stand if you felt the news article or fact in question was not racist. Then Brice would read the story or fact, and we would all stand in the block or blocks we felt applied to it. (Sometimes, it was very hard to decide.) As we stood there, we listened to a few people give their reasons for where they were standing, and then moved on to the next story or fact. It was a great way for us to use the model, at least partly, and apply it to real life situations.

Of course, this is not the only model. It belongs to R Hardiman and R Griffin. There are many other models, and I'm sure the discussion regarding them is fierce. It has occurred to me that we could do a whole meeting based on the various frameworks out there, with maybe a vote at the end of what the participants think is the most elegant model, the most usable model, and the most applicable model to our situation here at UC. Hmmmm... Now the brain is churning, lol.

The framework that we use to found our social justice education efforts is the Intergoup Dialog Method. (No one told me this, but it seems to fit the best.) It involves content learning, structured interaction, and facilitative guidance. There are four stages: 1) Group Beginnings, 2) Exploring Differences and Commonalities of Experience Across and Within Social Identity Groups, 3) Exploring and Discussing Controversial Issues, and 4) Action Planning and Alliance Building for Creating Change. It seems to me that participants in these groups MUST consider themselves a unit in order to get work done. They must think of what they can achieve together, rather than singly.

The last thing I want to note is that this book often makes me nervous. This is my first position as a facilitator, and while I did well this Monday (it was like pulling teeth at first, but we eventually did all right), I'm still really nervous about the first meeting next week. And while I think some of it is natural nerves (not being all that comfortable speaking in front of people), I think a lot of it is due to trying to keep all the facilitation advice handy in my head. Be impartial, be multipartial, be encouraging, be fair, allow all ideas an equal chance, help participants learn... And then there are the don'ts. Don't agree with any one person or faction. Don't be partial. Don't allow your face to show your emotions. (I have a glass face. Most people can read me as easily as you're reading this.) So I worry about how it's going to go. And the book sometimes makes it worse as there are so many different things they talk about that can go wrong. It is, in a way, like mothers telling the expectant mother horror stories about labor and delivery. I read about how things can go wrong, and I pray I'll remember everything and do a good job. You can all wish me luck!!!

Anyways, that's all from me today, so I hope you all have a good weekend. I'm working tomorrow, and hoping to be very productive as I have a lot to do and a deadline coming up. I'll most likely be working late Tuesday night too, as that is the last day. Mostly, though, I enjoy my work, so it shouldn't be too bad. Y'all have a good one!

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