Being a facilitator requires a good deal of awareness and consciousness. You must always be aware of the specific qualities and needs of your group. What is the members’ cultural background, gender, age? What is their level of education, life experiences, general attitude? The steps needed for creating an atmosphere of equality and reciprocity may vary not only by country, but even by region or community.
Just as well, there are differences in educational objectives, concepts, timetables, teaching techniques, classroom design or curricula.
We all work within educational and social norms of our societies, and usually we take our way of interacting with young people for granted. Our own ethnocentrism, but also the question of “what is normal” is easily overlooked or forgotten.
Not sure if you’re ready? You can use the Volunteer self-assessment mobile app to take stock of your skills and predispositions.
Before you consider starting a project, you should familiarize with the educational approaches and attitudes of your organization and your team-partners. To create a well working team and develop your own skills as a facilitator, it is helpful to reflect different styles and practices again and again, in international as well as local teams and contexts.
In our opinion, the central concern is to initiate a non-formal educational process encompassing knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes. This process begins with participants’ previous experience, knowledge and potential. Their ideas, reactions and input will help you to search together for new ways of understanding.
Skills and values like communication, critical thinking, advocacy of human rights, tolerance and respect cannot be taught – they can only be experienced.
Therefore, the exercises and activities should encourage young people to reflect, feel and act with their heads and hearts. For example, those without any personal experience of racism or sexism sometimes think that the subject is none of their business. From human rights perspective this position is very questionable, because everybody is responsible for creating and protecting non-discriminatory living environment. A successful non-formal learning activity could move youngsters to rethink their position and maybe even gather courage to change the status quo.