“Students behind their desks!” was my spontaneous answers.
I work with a lot of University students who are concerned about the social & environmental issues of our time. I often hear young adults say “I need to learn before I can create change”. Have you often heard the opposite? “I need to create change in order to learn!”
What is “learning by creating change?”
Recently, I experienced a nice example of this in Rotterdam (Holland), playing the OASIS game. The OASIS game is a methodology developed in Brazil. Its purpose is:
“To awaken and cultivate a social and cooperative entrepreneur spirit in the members of the community, to restore and/or strengthen the relations and affective connections and cultivate a sense of opportunity and responsibility to take care of the area and the people who live there.” http://elosbrasil.org/en/metodologias/oasis/
The facilitators of this ‘game’ are the learners. The process of learning is by creating change, by meeting the world as it is, not as one imagines it to be, and then by reflecting on it. In essence this is experiential learning, and a hugely important idea for people wanting to effect positive social change.
And just imagine for a moment… What would be possible if the majority of learner’s energy would be applied in the world, for the world? What would be the effect within learners themselves?
What happens when you put 55 youth together with 25 adults for 8 days?
A few weeks ago I worked on LifeBeat – a youth empowerment programme using the creative arts, and the creative community model that was developed by Charlie Murphy (PYE Global). Its a great programme for the youth – no doubt. And the reason why I blog about it is because of its empowering effect not only on youth, but also the volunteers. The impact it has on adults is – in my opinion- much greater than quite a few personal/leadership development programmes I know off.
Why? This is what I think contributes: Living in community together – with other diverse adults & teenagers; working in the service of others; taking creative risks through leading activities / workshops, and being invited to bring your gifts to others and to be authentic (teenagers just don’t ‘take’ in-authenticity – is that why adults find them so challenging?); the questions teenagers are asking themselves are still alive, yet often suppressed in adults.
Why is this important news? The need of personal growth / authentic leadership is great in these times of social and environmental challenges. So learning opportunities that facilitate this are needed. Yet, I belief the time of people getting together for a weeks course – to play some ‘games’, and sit in circle (or even watch some slides) – is over. A more systemic approach is – for example – LifeBeat. It provides a ‘service’ for youth, and at the same time a large amount of adults benefit – for free. Its the sweet-spot between a powerful learning experience and serving a need of our time. Elos work – for example the Warriors Without Weapons – is another example of such sweet spot. In times of economic hart ship, this may be even the ONLY way in which the majority of people can benefit from personal / leadership development programmes. And certainly, the learning that comes from interacting with and serving the ‘real needs of the world’ is more relevant to our times than games/models/theories that have arisen from an unsustainable paradigm.