Friday 15 April 2016

Still playing with the Kline approach

I know I keep going on about it (and I am well aware of the danger of the evangelistic zeal of the born-again neophyte in any context), but I continue to be impressed with the power and deceptive simplicity of Nancy Kline's work.

This week I ran a workshop on Time Management, for academics. Normally, the first part of the afternoon is dedicated to dealing with all their 'Yes, Buts...' after we have covered the key ideas and core processes in the morning.

Typically, I do that by getting them to identify their Yes, Buts... before lunch, and then work in syndicates to generate solutions to them after lunch (while I have my siesta, you understand...) That works OK, which is why I do it: sometimes better than others; occasionally it is a bit pedestrian, but at the least it does help convey a sense of agency. That is, if an issue is a serious problem, with a little thought and discussion, they can probably devise a solution.

However, this time, I explained the components of the Thinking Environment to them, and then got them to work in pairs as thinking partnerships; half an hour of listening and half an hour of thinking out loud each.  Once more this proved very powerful. And not only did they learn a lot both about time management, and about the power of really listening (and really being listened to), and how different that was from many of their normal interactions; but also many of them recognised immediately how useful this approach will be with some of the students they teach.

It was certainly a more engaging, more thought-provoking and more useful exercise than the one I used to run at this stage; at least on this occasion. So I will do it again next time, and if it is consistently better, I will use it consistently.

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