Mango: A group of 6 people who came together to delivera compelling residential learning experience with children from an EAZ in Greenwich & managers from Mars / Masterfoods, Anderson Consulting & a law firm in 2001So compelling we had to do it again – initially with the EAZ as a partner, then Hackney Youth Service, Home Educated young people, youth development charities and ‘looked after’ children in the London Borough of Greenwich & Lewisham. The latter through Mike Penny who then initiated the Thomas Tallis cluster work which Doug will talk about.So good, we set up a company!One of the 6 – Geoff O’D (now head of CAFOD’s OD programme) took the name from ...
It’s the coming together for the business of living, in acknowledgement of our interdependency that we / I found and still find so inspiring. We loved doing this work because it’s so rewarding supporting others in it and because this the way we want to live our lives.We / I have done a lot of work in really understanding this notion of community.(Some years into our working partnership Geoff returned from a trip & confessed that the trees he had in mind when he visualised the village were actually cashews.)
What I’m not interested in are exclusive connotations of community. Parody to make the distinction clearEtymology as a warning! Munis - munitions
Community as a technical term for: principles of designing learning experiences, relating to each other during the learning experience and the state we hope to achieve as a sustainable culture in the organisations the learners are part of.Respect: self-esteem; empowerment as a learner and a participant in shaping our shared experience.Appreciation of Difference: is about active curiosity about and valuing of the experience of others. Reciprocity: we’re all here for each other and ourselves. Not here to teach or heal the other as an object or target but gathered to learn and grow together with the practical support and witnessing of others. Again – it’s about interdependence.Participation: about meaningful and appropriate inclusion. Practicing principles of democracy / equality as far as we can given the particular responsibilities of adults for children. Doing it together is necessary for the integrity and sustainability of the process. Learning with rather than doing learning to.Dynamism and rigour – this is a robust process
This is an educational intervention and it’s really hard work!What are you hoping to achieve through this massive investment of time, energy and resources? What are your strategic (SIP), cultural, attainment agendas?We need to know what the learning objectives are to help us stay focused.It’s easy to confuse the process with the outcome – particularly with something like this where the process also creates a desirable cultural outcome. We’ve used these events for PSHE-type learning – emotional literacy and attending to issues around bullying, belonging, personal efficacy, leadership (in adult and school-age learners).We’ve also used them to support the development of ICT skills
Structural components: Community Meeting – so that the whole group has an identity as a whole group. This is us!Home group: smaller gatherings for more manageable conversations and more individual attention. Meetings are used for reflection on learning and the experience of the event & issues to take to council.Council: key to democracy of governance. It needs to be made clear what’s up for council influence (H&S isn’t; meal-times might not be)Down time – adults need to be available and it helps if focus-points are offered (x will be in the common room with a guitar if anyone fancies singing)Flexibility based on commitment to the principles (of respect, appreciation of difference, reciprocity and participation) H&S & learning agenda
This is the hardest bit!By clean we mean healthy use of personal power (to work with people vs over or at them).By creative we mean being truthful about what we feel, need and can offer to the group rather than acting out a habitual role. (When we’re shy about naming that we’re angry at having been kept up all night, or that we’d love to have a go at football for the first time we deny the group the opportunity to work through what’s gritty or the delight of making life more wonderful for somebody.) Without this the group can become stale, it’s harder to learn and harder to feel genuinely empowered. Then the group’s expressing itself in less vibrant hues than it might do. ... this is about Relating to colleagues and young people as whole human beings rather than as the role or persona we’re used to encountering them in. We know it’s working when people are clear about what is and isn’t OK for them and are able to negotiate with others to get their individual and respective needs met. Sometimes this is easier for kids than it is for adults. Staying curious rather than knowing – maintaining a disposition of inquiry and not assuming anything about anyone. Asking questions allows people to name their truth and then we can all work with that.All participants ... This helps keep the community real and safe – everyone’s in it for their own learning as well as the support of others’. It can be really challenging for teachers to ‘not know everything’ in front of kids and genuinely work stuff out together. Without this the kids become the target – done to rather than done with.
This is perhaps the hardest bit!Relating to colleagues and young people as whole human beings rather than as the role or persona we’re used to encountering them in. We know it’s working when people are clear about what is and isn’t OK for them and are able to negotiate with others to get their individual and respective needs met. Sometimes this is easier for kids than it is for adults. Staying curious rather than knowingAll participants ... This requires the adults to model learning skills and it needs to be real for the children to believe it!
A community-building approach to compelling residential learning experiences
The Mango Story – Tanzanian Roots At the heart of a village large mango trees provide shelter from the sun. In this shade the community gathers for the business of living: Playing; Resting; Making Decisions; Working; Resolving Disputes ...
What it’s not: Community as ‘Sentiment’ Cosy ‘People Like Us’: assumption of commonality / homogeneity Difference is disruptive Disruption is problematic
Community as methodology for learning and governance Respect – for self & others Appreciation of Difference Mutuality / Reciprocity Participation: we work it out together, whatever ‘it’ is.
Without this clarity staff are disempowered and children become confused about boundaries.
Careful & Flexible Design: basic structural components Community Gatherings: play & business Home Group: ‘holding’, reflection & learning Council: decision making Subject-specific learning activities Semi-structured down time
Clean and Creative Relationships Authority in authenticity rather than role Staying curious rather than knowing All participants are participants in learning, taking risks, having a laugh ...
This is really hard work! Is it worth it? Yes If you believe that through authentic, creative relationships human beings help each other to realise unimagined potential.