Last week I had the privilege of attending part of the Nelson Principals’ Conference at Lake Rotoiti. I was there to facilitate an ICT challenge but I went up on the evening before so I could capture the dawn on the lake- something that I’ve always wanted to do. Here is my Flickr set that I’m really pleased with. Here’s the five frame storytelling outline that we completed. Well done Team Drummond for your spectacular presentation.
They had David Gurteen talking about the Knowledge Cafe– the idea behind the knowledge cafe is to re-create some of the conversations that happen in the pub after the staff meeting, where people feel OK to really express themselves and challenge each other on an equal footing and say what they really think.
David quoted Theodore Zeldin on conversation, “Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, and engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.“
“The kind of conversation I like is one in which you are prepared to emerge a slightly different person.”
Theodore Zeldin (b. 1933) Historian & Author
David Gurteen’s comments: “I love this quote and use it in many of my presentations and workshops, especially when I am talking about the meaning of dialogue. I also tell people in my knowledge cafes that this is the sort of conversation they should be having – not a conversation where they tell people things but a conversation where they listen and learn in other words a ‘learning conversation“.
At this point I made the connection to Dean Shareski’s 2010 K12 OnLine keynote where he said “I am a derivative.” Me too- I am a derivative of all the people I know.
Conversational dynamics are better with smaller groups of four or thereabouts. It sounds a lot like our planned cluster unconference.
The process of a knowledge cafe- small groups, conversation based around a question, 5-10 minutes, ask a few people to move to another group, others sit tight and continue- coming back together but don’t report back- try and have another big group conversation- everyone can contribute. By changing groups the dominant ones when moved tend to be less so after being moved changes the group dynamics.
‘Who would like to share something with the wider group?’ For a larger group you may need a mike. One big circle at the end. Finally ask each person for one sentence in reflection of the process or the new perceptions as a result of the conversation.
The key outcome from a knowledge cafe is what people take away in their heads- a deeper understanding of one another, a better appreciation of your own point of view and the perspectives of others. A better understanding of each other and thus improved relationships and collaboration.
I would like to give the Knowledge Cafe a go at Thursday’s lead teacher meeting and in my classroom. I think the world needs more conversation- people tend to talk past each other not to each other.
And a final quote from Theodore Zeldin, “Change the way you think, and you are halfway to changing the world.“