Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Transformational Structure #2

The second instalment of my article on the underlying structure of a group that seeks to lead people towards transformational outcomes in their lives. Main point of today's article (to save you some time) is the critical importance of letting your participants set form/activity of the lesson...

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Stage 1: Wisher

BACKGROUND

You start by wanting something. The something you want is the final result, this thing you want to possess, do, become. The wish needs to be expressed positively. Alexander: I want to act. Once the wish is clarified, then the obstacles to that wish become the objects that are researched. Alexander: loss of voice. The wish is a source of energy, a motivator to do what is necessary to achieve that wish. Without it, there is no direction, no means of calibrating where you are on your journey, no way of knowing how you are doing. Alexander: voice becoming reliable or not.

WORKSHOP

Ask everyone what they want? Get them to participate in the workshop by asking them to set the agenda of what will be explored. If you are working with students over a period of time, keep revisiting this question, and keep including it in the agenda of a workshop.

Also, during the workshop itself, try not to put students in situations where you are dictating the agenda almost all the time. The best structured workshop is the one that addresses the wishes, questions and needs expressed by the students. By linking that with the information concerning Alexander discoveries, you are creating a far more effective learning environment for your students.

Observation and Analysis need objects to focus on – what these will be can be set by the students, not the teacher. The teaching points and principles then arise out of the process of working with those objects of attention. Alexander chose the process of making a decision to sit or stand from a chair. In his model, the teacher decides the activity, the student follows the teacher's wish. An alternative teaching pedagogy is to let the student decide the activity. Essentially it does not matter. As Alexander himself pointed out:

"We are not teaching people to get in and out of chairs – we are teaching people how to make a decision against the habit of life."

So the students wish becomes important to reveal – it drives the workshop or lesson, and gives focus to their desired outcomes.

TEACHERS TOOLS

The teacher needs the skill to unlock from the person the truth of what they really want. Where do you learn that? Like all things Alexander – by consistently working this way yourself!

At the start of lessons, a student's real wish may or may not be apparent, even to the student. Teachers usually get around this problem by supplying the activities: offering chairwork, tablework or one of the teaching procedures that Alexander developed. The goal then becomes subtly distorted until it feels like the lesson is about how to do things more easily, how to be "released, loose and free". This was never Alexander's primary goal, it was merely a step to achieving something much bigger: conscious, constructive control of the individual. When the principles and practices of the work can be related to real life needs and wants of each individual student, then it work correctly becomes the tool or means for that person gaining their conscious intentions or wish.

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TOMORROW: An analysis of Alexander's story, showing how all the points I make above are demonstrated in his own journey...

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