In November, Anise, Annemarie and myself took a day out to try the technique of walking and learning, as outlined in Anise’s previous post. The day was a fantastic opportunity to gain some thinking time as well as trying out a technique that I had read about from elsewhere and I wanted to use in the Managing Change module.
As Anise outlined there were three objectives and in this post I am going to give some reflection on the objective:
- Explore walking and learning as an educational practice
Walking and thinking have been seen as productive techniques for freeing your mind and encourage more creativity but I did wonder if this would work as an educational tool. There were two key lessons in terms of preparation. Firstly having clear objectives and parameters to the day was essential. This ensured that we all chose locations that fitted the themes and channelled our reflection. Secondly, the discipline of then thinking about activities that others could engage in during the visit to your location also ensured that we were able to be more productive in our thinking.
During the day, one of the things that I loved was the serendipity in terms of our conversation as we walked between the locations and at the locations and also in terms of what we observed. An example of this is that after my “Bloomsbury squares” locations we went to lunch at the Quaker Friends’ Meeting House on Euston Road. A quick browse through some of the books in the bookshop brought up some texts on walking and learning and freeing your mind by reconnecting with nature. Very apt in relation to our themes.
I also enjoyed listening to others thought processes in terms of why they had chosen the locations they had and how our ideas changed throughout the day. Often people noticed new things in their oft visited locations that they had not seen before because they were reviewing them with fresh eyes and with new participants. The social interaction and bonding is another important aspect of this task which does have educational application – if you get to know each other better then you work more productively together.
Getting out of the office and walking through a city that I love was liberating for me and did free my mind to think creatively about my teaching and some leadership challenges. I would definitely use this as a teaching tool because it….
- enables bonding between the participants
- encourages participants to think more creatively about challenges or problems they have by looking at physical/visual (and other) representations of often intangible problems
- frees your mind to think differently about challenges
- means you have to articulate your thought processes in a different way
- enables you to receive feedback from others in a different environment
- stimulates you as the environment is constantly changing.
My caveats would be that you need to plan your objectives carefully and build in some reflection time at the end to ensure you can capture the learning from the day and think how to apply it later.