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Reviewing for Starters

- an alternative to icebreakers and energisers

Roger Greenaway's Active Reviewing Tips 11.2 ~ ISSN 1465-8046
A free monthly publication from Reviewing Skills Training

ARTips 11.2   Reviewing for Starters

- an alternative to icebreakers and energisers

 

The previous issue 'Turntaking in Reviewing' is now at: <http://reviewing.co.uk/archives/art/11_1.htm>

~ 1 ~ EDITORIAL: What! Reviewing Energises People?

* Does your learning event open with a review that energises
people?

* Do you review recent experience in a way that channels focused
energy into the next activity?

* Does your final review energise people to leave with a
commitment to try out their new learning?

Is it such a strange idea to think that reviewing can energise
people? The idea will soon be much less strange if you dive into
this month's Active Reviewing Tips article on 'Reviewing for
Starters'.

Take care - after you read the ten tips, ten benefits and the ten
ways of getting off to a reflective start, you will no longer be
thinking of reviewing as 'the bit at the end'.

Also in this month's issue is part of a Foreword that I wrote to
'Reviewingtechnieken' a new handbook on reviewing by Ammy Kuiper
and Jeroen Galama. The title gives a strong clue that most of the
book is indeed in the Dutch language. The English foreword is my
latest presentation of the case for active and creative
reviewing. You can borrow the arguments should you happen to
trying to persuade others of the value of this more dynamic
approach to facilitation.

Tell me what you think of this issue of Active Reviewing Tips,
and if you like it, why not recommend it to someone who would
benefit from the challenge of rethinking reviewing?

Roger Greenaway
roger@reviewing.co.uk

PS UK customers of my bookshop, please note the free delivery
offer all the way to Jan 1st 2010.


~ 2 ~ ARTICLE: Reviewing for Starters

Reviewing usually happens after an event. This is normal timing.
But is it always perfect timing? Are there other good times to
have a review?

Well, you can review DURING activities. For example:
- reflection-in-action (Schon*)
- half time review (in games of two halves)
- taking time out (with a learning buddy or coach or video diary)

But 'Reviewing for Starters' is about bringing reviewing even
further forwards and reviewing BEFORE the action starts. In some
areas of practice, reviewing is the natural starting point, such
as when you:
- carry out a training needs analysis
- involve participants in designing a programme that connects to
their real world
- kick off an 'Appreciative Inquiry' with the question 'What
works well?'
- or when you search for relevant expertise with a 'peer assist'
(Collison and Parcell*)

In other situations a review at the start does not seem 'natural'
at all. In Reviewing for Starters you will find some 'natural'
and some 'less obvious' ways of starting a session with a review,
in this order:

John Dewey wrote that 'every experience lives on in further
experiences' (Dewey*). By trying out the ideas in Reviewing for
Starters you will be able to help people select and harness those
experiences which they most want to 'live on' in the next
activity. (References are listed at the end of this article.)

REVIEWING FOR STARTERS: 10 TIPS

1. Get participants busy discovering the diversity of talent and
experiences in the room. For example: try out Brief Encounters or
Sim Survey.

2. Review recent learning immediately after a break and before
introducing the next exercise. This increases the chances that
recent learning will be applied in the new exercise. The new
pattern will look something like this: activity - break - review
- activity - break - review -

3. Pay attention to each individual's current state by asking
what feelings, fresh insights, questions, words or phrases are
'on top'. Not only does this help to meet people's need for
attention, it also helps you pitch what comes next in a suitable
way.

4. After briefing the next exercise, create a 'time-out' for
people to consider what recent learning could be useful.
Alternatively, refuse to start the clock on the next exercise
until you are satisfied that sufficient connection has been made
to recent learning.

5. Involve participants in researching safety, such as by
including these questions in a Sim Survey: What do you already
know about safety that will help us stay safe in this next
exercise? What do you already know about the activity, the
environment and how your group behaves that you need to consider
in order to stay safe? (Adapt for other objectives.)

6. Review whose turn it is to ... lead, go first, keep time,
observe, make the tea, or to carry out whatever responsibilities
might otherwise fall to the same few people.

7. Review what progress individuals are making on personal
targets, with a view to creating extra support or opportunity for
those who might need extra encouragement. Spokes (a kind of human
bulls eye) is a quick method for viewing such progress.

8. Highlight one individuals' story. As an alternative to always
trying to include everyone in every review, you can save pre-
activity reviews for highlighting one individual's learning story
- so that by the end of the programme each individual has had the
chance of being in the spotlight at least once.

9. Use a round (or pair and share) to get everyone making
connections between past present and future. Try these sentence
beginnings:
'This situation / place / activity reminds me of ...'
'What we are about to do reminds me of ...'
'I was ... I am ... I will ...'

10 Find even more 'starter' reviews by searching
<http://reviewing.co.uk> for 'Activity Map' and 'Observation
Walk'. Also try creative tweaks of any other reviewing methods
that can be used for bringing past experience into the immediate
future.


REVIEWING FOR STARTERS: 10 BENEFITS
Many of these benefits arise from changes you can make in
programmes where the normal structure for a session is 'brief-
plan-do-review' (or similar). Some of the benefits described
below can be achieved simply by changing the timing of the break
so that the break occurs after the activity and before the
review. Please note that a review before an activity can draw on
any prior experience and does not need to focus exclusively on
people's most recent experiences within the programme.

1. IMPORTANCE
Reviewing at the start demonstrates your commitment to reviewing
and that you recognise its importance. If you leave reviewing
until after the activity, and you do not have time to do it well,
your participants will soon get the impression that reviewing is
the unimportant bit tagged on at the end.

2. CONTINUITY
Reviewing first is a way of demonstrating that reviewing is part
of a continuous cycle that has no beginning or end. You can start
and stop wherever you like! You are not breaking any rules (or
inventing any new theories) by reviewing first. You are simply
applying experiential learning theory.

3. SURPRISE
Reviewing at the start surprises participants who are accustomed
to reviewing at the end. Do it well and it will be a pleasant
surprise that awakens their reflective processes from the very
beginning.

4. ALWAYS THINKING
Reviewing at the start helps to keep review, reflection, thinking
and learning ticking over - so review at every opportunity,
including before the activity. (If the gaps between reviews are
too long, people can get so absorbed in the action that they may
do little reflecting until it's all over.)

5. ENERGY
People are refreshed after a break, so why struggle with a review
when people are tired, when you can simply take a break and start
the next session when people are awake and alert? For example, on
a multi-day programme you can start the day with a review of the
last activity of the previous day.

6. FLOW
Reviewing at the start reduces the gap between the learning from
the previous activity and its application (if relevant) in the
next activity. This helps to create more flow in a programme.

7. PERFECT TIMING
Start with a review and you can give the review whatever time it
needs - assuming that you can be flexible with the time needed
for any activity that follows within the same session.

8. PERFECT PRIMING
Review after a break and you are better able to provide the
perfect lead in to the next activity. Participants are refreshed
and the break will also help clear your head and prepare for
priming the next activity - complete with relevant connections
with what has gone before.

9. PURPOSE
A review at the start makes it easier for participants to see the
purpose of a review because it is usually bringing to the fore
the very things that will be assets in the exercise that follows.
(In contrast after activity reviews can sometimes feel like a
'dead end' going nowhere, especially if the review is referred to
as a 'close', or 'closure', or 'wrap up' or 'winding down' or
'post mortem'.)

10. INTEGRATION
Reviewing at the start has its advantages but it does not rule
out reviewing at other times. So you have nothing to lose by
getting in a review early - and then reviewing as often as you
like! This integrates reviewing into your practice while also
getting participants into a regular habit of reflecting on
experience.


REVIEWING FOR STARTERS: 10 ACTIVITIES

1. Good News Graffiti
2. Brief Encounters
3. Sim Survey

4. Talent Show
5. Auditions and Interviews
6. Back to the Future - individual
7. Back to the Future - group version

8. Missing Person
9. Solo Challenge
10 Snakes and Ladders


ENERGISERS
These three energisers are
- reflective because they draw on people's experiences
- energising because they draw on positive experiences
- suitable for starting an event because you can readily include
late arrivals

1. GOOD NEWS GRAFFITI
Good News Graffiti is particularly well suited to groups that
meet regularly. As people arrive they are invited to write up
their good news headlines on flip chart easels that are on
display around the room. Experiment with different page titles to
generate a suitable variety of good news. You decide whether to
keep the good news focused on the work of the group and whether
it is helpful to invite the sharing of other good news such as
achievements outside work. This sharing of good news as people
arrive helps to set a positive tone, while also acknowledging how
people are contributing to the work of the group. Good News
Graffiti could be seen as another way of asking the appreciative
question: 'What is working well around here?'

2. BRIEF ENCOUNTERS
Everyone receives a card with the instructions on one side and
two unique questions on the other side. Following their
instructions people quickly pair up and choose one of their
questions to ask to their partner. The questions are designed to
bring out short stories of success related to the overall theme
of the event. After answering each other's question, partners
swap cards and find a new partner. And so it continues for as
long as you want. It is also suitable for any size of group (from
10 to 100 or more). One ready-to-use example of Brief Encounters

3. SIM SURVEY (Simultaneous Survey)
This looks much the same as Brief Encounters (from a distance)
but it tends to be a little more serious and needs more time. In
Sim Survey, people do not swap cards: they keep their unique
question and report back to the whole group with an anonymous
summary of what they have learned from their interviews. Best
suited to groups of 10-30 people. To reduce the time needed for
interviews and for reporting back, keep to a maximum of ten
unique questions. This means that some people may have identical
questions - in which case people with the same questions can meet
up to collate their answers into a joint verbal report.


ACTIVE AUDITS
These three success-focused auditing exercises allow participants
to reflect on the talents they have, and on how these talents can
be applied towards achieving an individual goal or a group task.

4. TALENT SHOW
Find an object or picture postcard representing a talent you have
that you would like to bring to the next activity (or to the rest
of the programme). Each person gives an example of where they
have used this talent and of how they now hope to use it, or
develop it. Alternatively (where people are overly modest)
participants first share their 'talents' in twos or threes before
introducing each other's talents in the larger group. After each
talent is presented, it is put on show on a low table in the
centre of the group - or wherever the growing collection can
readily be seen by everyone. This may not be everyone's idea of a
'talent show' but it is a useful reviewing technique for focusing
energy and talent towards a common goal.

5. AUDITIONS AND INTERVIEWS
Where a group task requires specific roles or responsibilities,
show these in a list of vacancies and invite applications from
the group (two or three people per vacancy). Those choosing not
to apply for any vacancy automatically acquire the responsibility
of serving on the interview panel. Now provide time for
applicants to prepare for their audition. At the same time the
interview panel meet to elect a chair and prepare for how they
will manage the auditions. (Or you can appoint yourself as the
chair!) Because this is an 'audition' rather than an interview,
each applicant should be prepared to do a brief cameo performance
demonstrating their suitability for the role. Applicants can also
expect questions from the interview panel. Expect fun and
humour, but ensure that humour is not of the humiliating kind.

6. BACK TO THE FUTURE (paired version)
The original individual version of this exercise ('Objective
Line') was described in some detail in the previous issue of
Active Reviewing Tips. If you would like a pdf copy of the new
improved version (complete with a series of questions to ask the
traveller) please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk with 'back to
the future' in the subject line.

7. BACK TO THE FUTURE (group version)
You ask much the same questions (as in the paired version) to the
group as a whole. For example:

"What experiences / knowledge / skills / values / confidence /
achievements etc. do you already have as a group that will help
you tackle this next challenge successfully?"

Lay a rope of at least 5 metres on the floor, and place a chair
at the far end of the rope. Explain that for every convincing
point they make, you will move the chair towards the near end of
the rope. Once they get the chair to the near end of the rope,
the group switch from audit mode to planning mode. The far end of
the rope now becomes their target, and as they talk about how
they will use what they already have (making their plan) you
gradually move the chair closer towards their target. This
exercise provides a graphic and memorable way of getting a group
into the habit of carrying out an audit before making a plan.
When I am the chair mover, I am happy for the group to overrule
any moves I make, but I would try to insist on evidence (for the
audit) and clarity (for the plan).


CREATIVE CUSTOMISING
Up to this point, all of the 'Reviewing for Starters' exercises
have had a strong positive focus. These next three exercises
allow for a more balanced approach.

- Missing Person is a creative way of looking at the strengths
and weaknesses in a group.

- Solo Challenge starts by encouraging each individual to commit
themselves to a task or activity that they would find
particularly challenging and personally relevant.

- Snakes and Ladders is a more artistic version of Force Field
Analysis or SWOT analysis. It is about how existing strengths and
weaknesses might come into play in the next challenge.

8. MISSING PERSON
As with most reviewing methods, Missing Person is suitable for
all ages with a little tweaking here and there. It is best used
after a group have already carried out a number of different
activities together, so that they have a range of group
experiences to draw upon. The method is future focused, the key
question being 'What kind of person would you welcome into your
group to help you achieve your goals?'. But to answer this
question the group looks back over their experiences together
thinking about what has been missing from their performance so
far and how a new person could help to bring about improvements.
A more detailed description is in this month's extract from
'Dynamic Debriefing' in Section 5 below.

9. SOLO CHALLENGE
For Solo Challenge, group members all need to know each other
fairly well. Solo Challenge starts as an appraisal exercise, in
which the group (of up to around 10 people) generate ideas for
suitably challenging 30 minute tasks for each individual. Each
challenge is tailored to the perceived needs of each individual.
Anyone in the group (including the facilitator and the individual
being offered a challenge) has the power of veto over any
proposal. For example, proposals have been vetoed because they
are unsafe, too easy, too hard, not interesting enough, not
related to the person's needs, unlikely to be fulfilling, etc.
Vetoes help to raise the quality of the whole process. If it is
proving too difficult to find acceptable challenges within about
30 minutes, take a break or postpone Solo Challenge until later
in the programme. I have included Solo Challenge in Reviewing for
Starters because the facilitator can use their veto to ensure
value and relevance for each individual right from the start of
this exercise. A full description of the whole process is at:

10. SNAKES AND LADDERS
Before an activity ask:
'What snakes do you each bring to this activity that could cause
you or others to slide back down?'
'What ladders do you each bring to this activity that could
assist the process or raise your game?'

And (like Missing Person) you can ask about the group as whole:
'What snakes lurk in this group's way of doing things that could
cause you to slide back down?'
'What ladders does the group have that could assist the process
or raise your game?'

With some groups you may want to go the whole way with this
method and have them make a snakes and ladders board, and play
the game.

Snakes and Ladders is just one example of a Metaphor Map
(described in Section 5 below). A Metaphor Map is a graphic way
of representing past experiences. It can then be used to help
people anticipate and prepare for navigating future challenges,
or it can be repeatedly used as a reviewing tool to reflect on
the journey taken.

IS IT A BIRD? IS IT A MAN?
In which section of the facilitator's toolbox does Snakes and
Ladders really belong?
Is it a reviewing technique?
Is it a game?
Is it a planning technique?
Is it a structure for an appraisal session?
Is it a skills development exercise?
Is it a team building exercise?

My answer: it could be all of these. If the naming of the snakes
and the ladders arises from past experience (rather than being
plucked from thin air) then it qualifies as a reviewing exercise.
The fact that it leads so well into anticipating the future, does
not disqualify it from being a 'reviewing' exercise. In fact,
like all of the methods described in 'Reviewing for Starters', it
encourages people to connect with past experiences before rushing
into the next activity.

By choosing (or creating) a suitable review before the next
activity, you are adding value to past experience in a way that
is also likely to add value to what is just about to happen. This
is what I mean by 'Reviewing for Starters'. If you would like to
add any of your own 'Reviewing for Starters' to the list above,
please write to roger@reviewing.co.uk with 'starters' in the
subject line.

AND FINALLY ... ANOTHER WAY TO BEGIN
Ask a group to review the activity they are about to do, 'as if'*
they had just completed it. Stepping into the world of
imagination can be a welcome change to the normal routine - and
it can readily provide breakthroughs in learning. If your review
of an imagined forthcoming event goes well you might find that
there is no need to review the event after it has happened for
real. And if your review of an imagined event goes really, really
well you might not even need to do the activity!


* REFERENCES and NOTES
Try not to be confused by the 'Starters' page at
storytelling methods for starting a review. This is a different
concept to 'Reviewing for Starters' which is about priming an
activity (or programme) by preceding it with a review.

Schon, D. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in
Action (1991)

'Peer Assist' is described in Collison and Parcell's Learning to
Fly (2001) which is reviewed at

Dewey, J. Experience and Education (1938)

'As If' (reviewing an imaginary event) is described in my article
on Big Picture Reviewing:



~ 3 ~ ACTIVE LEARNING MANUAL: HOW TO SAVE MONEY WITH A CAMERA

The Active Learning Manual is a pilot project using video to
demonstrate active learning methods. You can view my introductory
video and three one minute videos
- Action Replay
- Moving Stones
- Talking Knot
at <http://www.activelearningmanual.com>

If you are a client (or potential client) who has access to the
equipment and skills to take and edit 2 minute videos of a
similar style and quality to the pilot videos at
<http://www.activelearningmanual.com>

For a limited period I am now offering a third day's training
free in exchange for two minute videos that I can add to the
Active Learning Manual collection. To discuss this, or other
possibilities, please write to me at: roger@reviewing.co.uk

4 ~  ACTIVE LEARNING BOOKSHOP: FREE UK DELIVERY FOR 2 MONTHS

Roger's Active Learning Bookshop has raised over 1,350 for Save
the Children since January 2006. Thank you for your purchases.

Christmas shoppers may like to know that you can get FREE UK
DELIVERY for the rest of 2009: there is no minimum purchase for
Super Saver Delivery. (Super Saver excludes 3rd party sellers
where the product is not despatched by Amazon.)

Do ALL your Amazon shopping (not just books) via
<http://reviewing.co.uk/reviews> and not only do YOU get a good
deal, so do CHILDREN around the world who need our help. I worked
for Save the Children for 4 years so I know about the value and
quality of the work they do. Please support them by buying your
books (and any other Amazon goods) via ROGER'S ACTIVE LEARNING
BOOKSHOP at: <http://reviewing.co.uk/reviews>


~ 5 ~ DYNAMIC DEBREIFING: METAPHOR MAPS & MISSING PERSON


METAPHOR MAPS

Recommended use: for individuals or groups to map their world and
use their maps to help them reflect on individual or team
experiences.

Resources: flipchart paper and coloured markers

Participants create metaphor maps that represent the kind of
places they visit, avoid or seek in their working day. Map-making
can be a group or individual exercise. Places might include:
Field of Dreams, Stormy Seas, Safe Haven, Mountains of Work, Pool
of Relaxation, Stretch Zone, Swampland, Play Area, Road to
Nowhere, Stream of Ideas, Point of No Return, Terra Incognita,
Short Cut, Black Hole, Magic Spot, Site of Antiquity, Stadium of
Light, Great Wall, Greener Grass, Fountain of Knowledge, Bridge
Under Construction ...

Warning: People generally seem to be full of ideas for unpleasant
and frightening places to put on a map, so be sure to ask people
to check that their maps are reasonably balanced and include
places they like to visit and want to visit. It is meant to be a
map of their own territory - so it should include ‘places’ that
are familiar as well as a few strange ones.

Map-making is itself a reflective exercise. Once a map is created
it can be used as a more focused debriefing tool. Participants
tell their story about an experience while tracing their journey
across their map with a finger. The listener prompts as necessary
to help the person tell their story using the map: 'Did you visit
any of these places?' 'Where did you spend most time?' 'Can you
trace the journey you took?' 'Do you need to create new places on
the map?'. After the story is told (or during its telling) the
listener asks questions that help the storyteller to consider
alternative or preferred routes on the map, and how they could
succeed in making these journeys. Metaphor Map is a tool that can
be readily combined with most debriefing sequences.

Variations: With more resources and imagination, Metaphor Map can
be scaled up to room size or field size. These larger versions
allow people to walk around their maps with a facilitative
partner. The floor size map is a good scale for demonstrating the
method.


MISSING PERSON

Recommended use: for helping a group to assess its strengths,
needs and priorities. This exercise achieves the same as when a
group discusses its strengths and weaknesses, but in a more
powerful and memorable way.

Resources: flipchart paper and coloured markers.

Inform the group that their task is to create a new person to
join their group. Ask participants to think creatively about the
kind of person they would like this to be. The person will
probably share some of the characteristics already in the group
(e.g. sense of humour, good looks, friendly, enthusiastic) and
may also represent some characteristics that are missing (e.g.
timekeeping, leadership, telling decent jokes). Suggest they
start by giving the person a name and some interests before
thinking about their strengths and weaknesses as this provides a
fun and intuitive way into the process. Creating a missing person
is an activity that typically takes a group through a full
debriefing sequence - without much or any prompting. The new
character represents the skills, roles and qualities that the
team have so far lacked and now aspire to. Some groups so like
their missing person that you will find that they later call out
their name when they need help, or keep them on display for
inspiration.

Warning: Take care with how the image of the ‘missing person’ is
treated. Do not put their team mascot in the bin! As in all
creative work, the creators should dispose of their own work in
their own way and when they are ready to do so.

This is the 8th of 11 instalments from 'Dynamic Debriefing' - a
chapter I wrote for Mel Silberman's 'Handbook of Experiential
Learning'. Previous instalments were:


1: What is Dynamic Debriefing?

2  The Role of the Facilitator

3. Models of Debriefing

4. The Experience of Debriefing

5. The Sequencing in Debriefing

6. Action Replay

7. Objective Line (Back to the Future)

The remaining instalments of 'Dynamic Debriefing' will provide
further examples of debriefing methods.
Dynamic Debriefing is my chapter in Mel Silberman's 'Handbook of Experiential Learning' (2007).
See Amazon.co.uk: http://digbig.com/4rwnf or
Amazon.com: http://digbig.com/4rwng

~ 6 ~ EVENTS: 

If you are a provider of facilitation training, please send me
the details if you would like the details included in future
issues of Active Reviewing Tips.

REVIEWING SKILLS TRAINING WORKSHOPS
If you would like to host an open event or arrange for an in-
house customised trainer-training programme please get in touch.
Write to: <roger@reviewing.co.uk>

~ 7 ~ FOREWORD TO REVIEWINGTECHNIEKEN

These are extracts from my Foreword to 'Reviewingtechnieken' a
new handbook on reviewing by Ammy Kuiper and Jeroen Galama. My
foreword is in English. The rest of the book is in Dutch. This
is my latest presentation of the case for active and creative
reviewing and the value of this more dynamic approach to
facilitation.


FOREWORD (abridged)

Learning from experience is an old way of learning that is
gaining new respectability. Learning from experience is learning
from the university of life itself.

Trainers and educators are continually creating new and better
ways of facilitating experience-based learning and development.
One of the most neglected aspects of experiential learning is the
art of reviewing. This book describes ways of enabling people to
reflect productively on their experiences, especially when they
are learning in a group setting.

The primary skill for helping other people to reflect on their
experience is the skill of asking good questions. But if
reflection is nothing more than a discussion driven by questions,
such a process of reflection would reveal a narrow and limited
view of our capacities for thinking and learning.

Why be imaginative about how you review?  Why not just have a
reflective discussion? Well, sometimes that is a good option. The
very best discussions can be engaging, meaningful and highly
rewarding for each individual. But does this describe your
typical review sessions? However near or far you may be from
achieving such excellence in reviewing, you will find plenty of
ideas for further improvement by exploring the new dimensions
that the activities described in this book can open up for your
participants.

An able crafts person uses the best tools for the job and has the
experience and ability to use them well. The same is true for the
craft of reviewing. One big difference is that when you are
working with people, every person is a crafts person and you can
help each of them learn by helping them to develop their own
tools and skills for reflection. In many of these methods you are
the provider of tools that will help people learn from their own
experience. When tools are primarily for learners to use, the
facilitator's primary role is to help participants use the tools
well.

Using active and creative methods during reflection is a way of
making the learning process more fun. At a deeper level, the wise
use of a variety of reflection methods can help people to think,
learn and communicate in deeper and more meaningful ways. For
example ... Many adults are highly eloquent and articulate. So
much so, that straight after an experience they can immediately
explain everything! They are often the first to speak and their
eloquence can quickly make their story the main story through
which everyone else 'sees' their own experience. And the person
who has first presented their version of what happened will quite
often defend their version of events if challenged by others.
Once established, this pattern is difficult to change. It is true
that change can be achieved through skilled questioning, but how
much easier it is to change patterns and habits by shifting out
of the habitual medium (of talking).

In conversations, people can readily get stuck in ruts and
patterns that discourage new or reflective thinking. But if
people are asked to communicate in pictures or patterns or
through mime or through drama or through verse or music or
metaphor, people readily get unstuck from their ruts. Replace or
complement conversations with other ways of communicating and
people discover new ways of thinking, new ways of expressing
themselves and new ways of understanding and explaining things.
Yes, it is true new angles can be discovered through astute
questioning. And it is at least equally true that new angles can
also be discovered by changing the means and method through which
people create, tell and compare their stories about their
experiences.

For talking about group dynamics, it can be better to do so by
arranging (and continually rearranging) objects into patterns
showing how people are relating to each other.

For sharing an emotional experience, it can be better to do so by
first creating a storyline showing the ups and downs of their
emotions. This provides the storyteller with some thinking and
preparation time. And the storyline becomes a visual aid that
help listeners to see the story while following its ups and downs
and twists and turns.

For examining a critical moment it can be better to recreate
that critical moment through action replay. This gives all
participants the opportunity to discover new information by
interviewing people about the thoughts and feelings they were
having at that precise moment. This restaging of key moments
tends to bring out greater honesty and understanding.

I have myself been developing active and creative reviewing
methods for some years and I am happy that a number of my own
designs are included (or adapted) in this collection. The authors
have also included many methods from their own practice. The
methods described in this handbook have been developed and tested
in a wide variety of settings with many different age groups and
many kinds of people. But this does not guarantee success -
because the method itself will only be one of many variables
influencing the outcome.

These methods have been developed in the field. And in many
cases, the method seems more sound than the theory on which it is
based. In the field of experiential learning it is my view that
theory lags well behind the practice. Theories and models known
to practitioners are not necessarily the most suitable theories
for explaining what they do. There is an uncritical acceptance of
a number of theories that are known to be flawed. As this is a
preface and not a thesis, I will simply outline two theoretical
problems.

It is common to see experiential learning theory presented as a
'cyclical sequence' - as if the component parts of the sequence
happen one at a time. For example, it is common to see a clear
separation between 'experience' and 'reflection', or between
'doing' and 'thinking'. The visual appearance of these cycles and
the typical structure of a programme design makes it very clear
whether the learner is either 'doing' or 'thinking'. Kolb's
theory (which is the most referenced theory of experiential
learning) was more about the tensions between the opposites in
his model. I interpret  his model as one in which all parts are
always present and are always in tension with each other - and
that if you pull too far in one direction there will be a
counterbalancing force pulling in the opposite direction. This is
very different to the popular understanding and application of
such theories as simply being step by step sequences.

The ultimate for some kinds of learning is 'unconscious
competence' - something that has been learned so well that there
is no need to think about it - it just happens. This may be
helpful for some basic or routine skills, but not for more
advanced skills where it would be a mistake to run on 'automatic
pilot'. Do we want bosses to fire people without consciously
thinking about it? Hopefully we are trying to develop thoughtful
performance, not thoughtless performance. We need people to
reflect about what does and does not work well and to keep on
reflecting - during and after the training event. We may also
want people to think outside of this 'effectiveness paradigm' and
reflect on values, qualities, relationships, priorities and
motivations as well as on effectiveness.

Shifting from 'talk only' methods to more active and creative
methods is the equivalent of shifting from a dial-up modem
connection to broadband internet access. Both kinds of upgrade
support greater breadth, depth, speed, interactivity and all
round quality. Some of these activities may at first look like
games without serious purpose, but with experience and practice
you will find many tools in this book that will allow you (and
your participants) to combine the best of both worlds - becoming
fully engaged in stimulating and effective enjoyable learning
experiences.



If you can also read Dutch then you may like to know that
Reviewingtechnieken by Ammy Kuiper and Jeroen Galama is available
from these online bookshops:
http://www.thema.nl/product/reviewingtechnieken/
http://www.desda.eu
http://www.managementboek.nl



~ 8 ~ PREVIOUS ISSUE: Turntaking - Extras

In the last issue of Active Reviewing Tips, I invited people to
contribute their own ideas about turntaking. Bob Larcher explains
how note-taking can help everyone prepare to participate:

Bob writes: 'With regards to turntaking, a method I often use
(not always) is to ask participants to take time to write their
answers or thoughts to a question, this stops the "dominants"
responding straight away and gives time for the more reflective
to put their ideas into words. I then ask participants to
exchange in pairs or trios and then ask the pairs or trios to
exchange - I sometimes decide on the groups myself, mixing and
matching personal styles and sometimes I leave it to the
participants to choose; although I "hint" that it would be a good
idea to not always exchange with the same person.'


I noticed this little piece of turntaking wisdom from The Oaqui:

"Happy are those who get to talk. Happier are those who get
listened to."

It caused me to ponder a little more deeply about the value of
going beyond turntaking. Getting a turn is just a step in the
right direction. But I think the Oaqui said it better - and in
fewer words. I am listening to you Oaqui!

The Oaqui appears to be a close relation of Major Fun.
<http://www.deepfun.com/fun-e2.htm#oaqui>


~ 9 ~ NEXT ISSUE: REVIEWING FOR ME IN MY WORK

What would make you think of a future issue as 'Reviewing for
Me'? or 'Reviewing for the People I Work With' or 'Reviewing the
Kinds of Activities I Use' or 'Reviewing to Achieve These Goals'?

Your answer will help me to extend the 'Reviewing For _' series
by writing for readers just like you!

Please write to Roger at: <roger@reviewing.co.uk>


~ 10 ~ About Active Reviewing Tips

EDITOR: Dr. Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
9 Drummond Place Lane STIRLING Scotland UK FK8 2JF
Feedback, recommendations, questions: roger@reviewing.co.uk
phone (UK office hours): +44 1786 450968


The Guide to Active Reviewing is at http://reviewing.co.uk
'One of the best training sites I've ever seen' Training Journal

COPYRIGHT: Roger Greenaway  Reviewing Skills Training

POSTSCRIPT
Someone has since asked me if 'Reviewing for Starters' is about 'frontloading' (a style of briefing that attempts to steer an exercise towards specific outcomes and which limits scope for discovery or emergent learning). Which led me to coin the term 'backloading' - which I explain in the next issue.

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