Once we develop the capacity for intercultural competence, we can start to infuse the associated skills into our teaching practice. This can take many forms but all the elements connect to the group of knowledge and skills we associate with facilitation. Pedogogy is the study of leading learners and facilitators make a process easier. So, facilitation is the process we use to make the learning possible. In adult education, we know that our learners come with valuable prior knowledge, skill, and experience. We can draw on these to enhance the learning experience for both instructor-facilitator and student.
How do we start facilitating?
As an instructor, or facilitator, you may wish to try some of these summarized strategies suggested by Dimitrov & Haque (2017) :
- Create an opportunity for discussion that uses a different communication style. Some activities include: affinity mapping (sticky notes), concentric circles (speed dating), fishbowl. Many more examples in The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies
- Give feedback to learners in a different way – written, spoken in-person, via blackboard, more frequently, from an exit slip, try a multiple choice question, peer-to-peer, etc.
- Check your language (written and spoken) for idiomatic expressions or colloquialisms/regionalisms (eg. Bunny hug)
- Build relationships and mentor students who have different perceptions of power than you or who are culturally different from you.
- Articulate and clarify your position and standards for academic integrity (here are some tips) in your discipline.
- Anticipate and plan for risk factors or potential for triggers and microaggressions in the classroom.
When can we use it?
Using your intercultural capacity can happen any time you are interacting with someone else. Everyone has inherent uniqueness that together creates diversity. As our ‘village’ grows, our diversity along with it.
“…more and more of us do not live in closed circles of like-minded, similarly raised people. Think of the last few gathering you attended – a work meeting, a class, a trade show. Chances are, you sat next to and talked with people from places other than where you’re from, people with different cultural norms, people of different races and religions and histories. And chances are, therefore, that you sat next to people who do practice etiquette – but etiquette different from yours, and perhaps in conflict with it on certain points.”
– Parker, Priya (2018). The art of gathering: How we meet and why it matters. New York : Riverhead Books.
Why do we care?
We care about using good facilitation because we want our learners to achieve the desired outcomes of the course in the most efficient and effective way possible. This means using strategies we know will allow learners to thrive. As instructors, we want to leverage the learner’s pre-existing knowledge, skills, and attitudes to make the new learning accessible and within reach. If the learning curve is too steep, learners may just fall off. And even for the instructor/facilitator, try to keep a growth mindset that we are all working to get along and want to be successful in our relationships. A positive disposition and honesty about one’s own positionality and areas for growth will go a long way!
If you’re looking for more help with developing your intercultural capacity, please reach out to the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching and Learning. We can help individually or direct you to one of our workshops or short courses that can meet your needs.
NB: If you tried the text verification link above, hemingwayapp.com, you may be interested to know that this article is at a grade 10 reading level and 9 of the 39 sentences are “very hard to read”. Ideally, public text should be at a grade 9 level 🙂