The Course - We both believed that learning and the construction of knowledge cannot happen in a vacuum, and needs to build on preceding held information. So, to teach well we need a structure. What we felt, as experienced coco teachers, and, as this course gathered maturity, was that the information we wished to share could be shaped into a 5 day package:-
1. Setting the Culture – As a Facilitator, I need to manage the beginning of whatever event I’m running, so that my audience gains a sense as quickly as possible of what it involves. This makes it easier for them to lay their natural prejudices aside and focus on the new reality. Setting the Culture also includes a consideration of my right to be there, doing it!
2. Elements of Theory - It’s essential that I can answer EVERY question on the theory of the material that participants might ask during a course, EVEN IF the answer is “I don’t know”. I may contradict something that I have said earlier. A contradiction simply means that the question touches on a complicated area, that sometimes has one answer, and sometimes another. It’s important that I don’t try to cover up the contradictions, but just enjoy them as they are often very fruitful learning situations.
3. Teaching Practice - The business of teaching means a lot of prior thought and planning. When Gretchen and I sat down to plan our first Fundamentals course together, it took us a whole weekend to plan just day 1 of a 4 day course. I do recommend it!
4. Course Planning - Really, what this whole piece is about! Think about it before you do it, then think about it afterwards, so that when you need to do it again, it will be better! I (and I know, we) learnt from every course that we ran over almost 20 years.
5. Accreditation - When I finish any piece of work I want to celebrate what we have done, and to reinforce that celebration in an effective way that means something to everyone. I also want to get and give some feedback on how I have functioned, and to make sure, as a facilitator of the coco community that the participants are as safe as possible to go out into their community and teach, if that is their plan.
So let’s look at those 5 days in some more detail.