Every laboratory needs a mad scientist

First, a contextual clarification: Facilitation is herein used in the context of learning. For me, facilitation is teaching, but there’s a difference in connontation for most people. For most people, “teaching” is a kind of directive transfer method while facilitation is more learner focused. There’s a nice raging debate on the topic, actually. “Teachers” who self identify as such might not be too happy with the term “Facilitator” because some think it depreceates their education and training. Meanwhile, a new wave of educators are perfectly happy calling themselves “Facilitators”; they just think of it as “facilitating learning”.

I’ve been trying to figure out whether or not being a good facilitator is something any and everyone can do. I like to think it is, but at the same time, I’ve been to a lot of sessions, workshops, conferences, classes, events and themed backyard barbeques. Ok, the themed backyard barbeques might be stretching it a bit, but the fact remains – I’ve been on both sides, facilitator and facilitatee.

As a facilitatee, I have to come to the conclusion that being a good facilitator is a personality trait.

As a facilitator, I have to come to the conclusion that any one can do it.

Facilitating learning is a personality trait because a monotone, disinterested, mentally dissociated space cadet who sounds like a prerecorded message can have a clear, concise, well crafted lesson plan and full on fail to transfer the learning objectives while an enthusiastic, spastic, sporadic social butterfly can have a random stream of consciousness unfit for human consumption because of its ridiculous disorder that changes perceptions and inspires real growth and learning. Do not underestimate FUN.

Facilitating learning can be done by anyone if they just let the fun in.

At the moment, we’re working on repackaging the Hackasaurus Hacktivity Kit to fit with the P2PU Challenges structure. The Hacktivity Kit was designed to help any and everyone learn how to run a Hackasaurus Hackjam. It inspires an almost natural teaching method that helps facilitators run sessions that use constructivist theories to build knowledge about remixing the web. The curriculum is coming along nicely.

At first, I wrote the curriculum using a fairly complex and strange narrative. However, after talking to an eighth grade English teacher working in a public school in the USA, I decided to get rid of the narrative and just focus on the process of organizing and running a hackjam. After I hashed out the draft, I started to wonder how we could create a challenge that helps a person develop the, in my mind fully necessary, personality trait of guided crazy.

Surman-san had a post yesterday called “Every event is a laboratory.” He detailed the Hive Popup they ran in Tokyo last week and talked about lessons learned. My premise in this post is that facilitation is key. I congratulate the Hive members who inspired those kids to play, hack, and remix the web. I’m pretty sure that “fun” component I told you not to underestimate played a huge part in the success of the Tokyo popup.

So. Every laboratory needs a mad scientist to facilitate the twists and turns the human psyche needs to make in order to learn. Every laboratory needs that special mixture of knowledge and enthusiasm. The question is, can the madness be taught? And should we try and create a challenge for it?

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Every laboratory needs a mad scientist

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