As a result of the recent school future backwards workshop on the environment (11 – 12 yr olds) which I summarised here I have now received feedback from some of the students who participated. It has been on my mind constantly ever since that this would be a great way to make sense of any subject with any year group in any educational establishment.
On the day I learned two very serious lessons about ‘complex facilitation’ as we, Cognitive Edge practitioners, call it. The aim is to facilitate the session by giving very simple and straightforward instructions while avoiding introducing any bias into the proceedings by giving examples, clarifying scope etc. Ambiguity is good because it widens the field.
Hence the topic to explore was ‘the environment’ and we began by capturing ‘the situation today’. I then had to run around discouraging the teachers who were assisting from adding their interpretations as encouragement. So the first lesson for the future is to brief teachers that I need them primarily for ‘crowd control’ which is what they were so unbelievably good at on the day.
The second lesson emerged during our step forward five years into the future. The first session of sixty children went fine but for three groups in the second session I intervened with an additional ‘helful’ suggestion that they ‘imagine they are Doctor Who in the Tardis and pop up in five years time, what would you see as the doors opened’. Looking at the outputs in horror I realise that I just widened their scope and influenced their perspectives so that those groups all included ‘Aliens contact’, ‘I am Doctor Who’, ‘Aliens invade’ and a puzzling ‘Dr Octaganopus – Bwah’. So I must never underestimate my ability to influence the outcomes of these sessions.
I now have permission to share the output with interested parties so if you would like to see the powerpoint (lightly abridged to remove identification of individuals) including all the future backwards outputs and all the individual pledges please do get in touch.
I leave you with some of the students feedback:
It was interactive and you could work well in a group
It was a real interesting way to learn about the environment and our surroundings
I liked completing the timeline activity as we have made some good suggestions as to the contributions to our planet’s environment today
I liked giving our opinions on the world in five years and today and in the past
I liked working on the floor in groups and it being to do with our own opinions
We were able to use our imagination
We got to predict things in the future