June 9, 2011
I’ve been working with big groups of girls this year and mostly enjoying the process. Sometimes though it gets a little nutty when I’m trying to help so many kids at once on a specific project. Especially when they might have been otherwise distracted.
I was talking to my friend Fran recently who has led a lot of workshops and work spaces for kids and adults alike. He talked about how he liked offering a space and guidance and tools as opposed to a specific project. He found this allowed the kids to come and go on their own a little more and to enter a project of their own volition as opposed to being made to do a specific thing at a specific time.
He spoke also how a format like this allows the kids to become teachers of each other which gives the teaching kids a real sense of accomplishment and understanding and the learning kids a greater connection and understanding to what is being taught. Sometimes when coming from an adult, for some kids, there is a disconnect that can happen and the information is not conveyed.
I tried both of these things at my girls’ camp this week. Instead of having the same project for everyone I decided instead to offer a few options, some ideas, the materials, and a space – including the option to not participate in the project at all if that’s what one chose. As I presented the project ideas, I also asked the girls if any of them knew how to do it. Two said yes and so they became teachers. And they LOVED it. And they were good at it. And the other girls listened. And learned. And everyone had a much more mellow time.
It was incredible. Really. And totally transformed my experience as “leader”. I don’t need to be the leader. I just need to be there, to provide some ideas, the space, the tools and the guidance when they need it. I look forward to approaching this way more – both at home and at camps. Everyone wins.