Thursday, June 15, 2006

facilitation

Why is it that Brits pronounce tomato tomah-to rather than tomay-to, like those Stateside, but pronounce data day-ta when the rest of the English speaking world seems to say dah-ta?

But then English is hardly a logical language no matter what your accent or national variation...

I spent a day earlier this week helping out with some notetaking and handing out post-its and flip chart paper etc at a data management strategy workshop (as one does...) and found by the end of the day I was saying dah-ta along with the rest of them - yet another kiwi-ism creeping in?

What is slowly starting to sink in from that experience (the workshop that is not the pronunciation!) is how many of us who have been trained up through years of Quaker events, training sessions, workshops and what have you have facilitation skills that are actually highly sort after in the outside world. Methods that are second nature to us for collecting and working with ideas, getting full participatory involvement, drawing out the quiet ones and letting them get a word in edgewise, using a multitude of methods to maintain interest and bring out individual strengths and appeal to varying people's thought processes - these are seen as unusual and innovative! What's more people pay silly money to get someone in to do this...

I don't think many of us from Britain really recognise the value of the investment in us that has been made by our Meetings, Summer Schools etc. The training I've had over the years from the Travelling Team and the NFPB etc over the last 20 years has been invaluable in terms of the Quaker work that I've done but I've never applied it beyond that sphere. Crazy really now I think about it.

It also strikes me that half of Britain YM's financial problems could probably be solved by hiring out it's staff and the Travelling Team if only for one day a year each to other organisations. Bringing our methods and practice, especially the more specifically Quaker aspects, into the outside world could make a huge difference to many orgaisations - and if we're prepared to be open about where we've come from it could be a huge form of indirect outreach.

Next week I get another chance to see the outside world of facilitation in action, I must admit though the idea of keeping a bunch of teenagers entertained for a few hours is a lot less scary than enabling a real life science strategy and funding prioritisation to be put together! But I guess it's just the fair trade chocolate or paper bag game with different players...

1 comment:

martin said...

Why is it that Brits pronounce tomato tomah-to rather than tomay-to, like those Stateside, but pronounce data day-ta when the rest of the English speaking world seems to say dah-ta?

Possibly because we still understand that words of Latin origin should be pronounced somewhat close to their roots..? Just like we remember that 'colour' has a French root, so don't ditch random vowels in the middle.

Mind you, a friend of a friend has come to the conclusion that simply to be understood, sometimes you just have to say "toe-may-doe".

And a still more remote friend of a friend of a (etc) has come to the conclusion that:

You've got two choices if you move out to California. You can become one of those slightly strange expat Brits who complains about the sun and whines about how they can't get Baked Beans or Marmite. Or, you can go native and live as a Californian.