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It is clear that the experiential educator is not a lecturer, a presenter, or a star, but a facilitator of learning. A learning facilitator does not like to drive. Instead, he or she lets the participants drive, providing some directions at key turns and engaging during the journey in conversation and activities that stimulate people’s interests and create their personal meaning while collaborating.

In Building United Judgment: A Handbook for Consensus Decision Making, Michel Avery, Brian Auvine, Barbara Streibel and Lonnie Weiss (1981) talk about the term facilitation as meaning to make easy (from the Latin word Facil):

The group facilitator’s job is to promote collaboration by making it easier for the group to do its work. By providing non-directive leadership, the facilitator helps the group arrive at the understandings and decisions that are its task. In a consensus group, the facilitator’s focus is on the group and its work. The role is one of assistance and guidance, not of control.

What is the difference between a Trainer and a Learning Facilitator? In Facilitating with Ease Ingrid Bens (2000) defines the facilitators’ job as one “to manage the process and leave the content to the participants.” Can a learning facilitator leave the content to the participant? I believe he or she can and should! Learning facilitators believe:

  1.  People are natural learners, and safe, informal, and collaborative environments foster their learning.
  2. People learn in context and through interaction. As such, learning is social and an act of participation.
  3. People are intelligent, and their lack of expertise in a given content area is no good reason for spoon-feeding.

What could your team accomplish if they were allow to learn and being taught this way? Do you know the art of facilitating collaboration?