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Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Asif Devji -
Number of replies: 11
Picture of Group 5

Hi All -- I've had a brief look at the Liberating Structures site & content as part of a previous (FLO Synchronous) workshop -- and while I've come away with a positive perspective of the activities presented there -- I also come away with the idea that those activities seem pretty common sense if you're actually trying to 'liberate' people to put forward (what they might otherwise consider risky) honest opinions within contexts that might not otherwise welcome alternative views or critical feedback.

Those (vocational/educational) contexts generally set the overweening 'structure' within which their participants operate -- so my question is: to what degree can a Liberating Structure activity override the the risks presented by the larger not-necessarily-so-liberating context which participants will necessarily be keeping in mind as they participate in the activity?

In this workshop I hope to learn from the perspectives and experiences of my peer practitioners who have attempted some of the Liberating Structures activities (or activities based on the same logic/objectives) -- and their reflections on the results thereof. 


In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Faith Whiting -
Picture of Group 4

I really like your question Asif. 

To me, it ignites inquiry around how/if LS could be used to bring concepts to a more personalized and meaningful level. In an adult-learning context, if LS could serve to truly connect learning to the personal lived experience (making it individually meaningful), would the "not-necessarily-so-liberating context" be somewhat altered? I'm not sure. Thank-you for pushing me to this place of thought.

I still don't really have a clear understanding of, or practice with LS, but I am looking forward to putting myself in the learner role and relating this new idea to my existing life experience. We'll see how it goes!

In reply to Asif Devji

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Jane Maxwell -
Picture of Group 2

Yes!  I have also wondered what is the key features/principles that make a structure "liberating" and distinguish it from common-sense teaching strategies designed to encourage open participation.  I hope that this week will provide opportunities to whether LS have the potential for transformative learning that transcends the risks and constraints of our institutional contexts. 

In reply to Jane Maxwell

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Beth Cougler Blom -

Hi Asif and Jane,

Great questions you have!

You might find it useful to look at the MicroStructures & Design Elements page on the LS website and the LS Principles page there too would also be a great read. Both of these links are now in our Tips & Resources page.

They might help you start to sort out what makes Liberating Structures different from conventional structures...

In reply to Beth Cougler Blom

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Michelle Laurie -
Picture of Group 2

Hi Asif, 

Your questions are relevant. For me, what seems like common sense is not necessarily the culture in all places. I don't have the answer of how to spur wider changes that may be desired as often organizations are not truly looking to be liberated at all levels. However I'm curious to see what happens as more people participate as really it begins with the people and their willingness to try (in my opinion). And lastly, even one can't truly crack every nut with LS, at least it won't be another boring powerpoint?! 

Michelle

In reply to Michelle Laurie

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Beth Cougler Blom -

Michelle you're so right, people have to be willing to try. A friend of mine who teaches in a university environment tried 25/10 Crowdsourcing recently with a group of undergrad students and she discovered one of them sitting off to the side, not participating in the "milling and sorting" part of that activity where people pass their index cards around the room and gain individual ratings, one by one. He had filled in all five ratings on the back of his card by himself, not choosing to do it with the group. So hard! She was flabbergasted.

So even if instructors/facilitators are very engaged and believe in LS we may still sometimes need to find ways to convince our students/participants...

In reply to Michelle Laurie

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Nancy White -
Picture of Group 3

A hard lesson I still seem to need to learn and relearn is to not try and "sell" an LS, but to just do it. People can and will reject any offer. So my job is to make the invitation relevant and irresistible. Then if at any point I screw up the process, we can still recover and focus on that invitation. And I will need to practice and improve my invitations, I think, until the day I stop interacting with other humans!!! I have this huge impulse to EXPLAIN everything. I need to tamp that down. ;-)

In reply to Nancy White

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Michelle Laurie -
Picture of Group 2

Hi Nancy, 

In terms of selling, I've recently been in the situation where the client is really involved in the process. In fact they asked for a design for some meetings/processes and then go off and do it on their own. Thus, I end up explaining the process, how it works, how they might do it, (share the LS website) however they tend to decide to go ahead or not based on how its presented to them or how much chance they want to take. Often they have not experienced the process. Though I agree wholeheartedly that once you experience and live the process, its easier to understand and buy into the methods. 

Focusing on the invitation is interesting and something I'd like to think about more. Thanks! 

Cheers, 

Michelle

In reply to Michelle Laurie

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Leva Lee -

Hi Michelle,

LS is meant to be "expertless" . You can read up on them and use them as they are nicely presented as a suite of tools. Invitations are key and the work really lies in crafting a good invitation that is open ended and will tap into the imaginations of participants to think of possibility and what they can do!

In reply to Leva Lee

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Nancy White -
Picture of Group 3

Re expertless... I have to add a "yes... and" there can be great results doing an LS as a new practitioner.  AND, some of the structures aren't that easy at first. AND, many of the structures have subtleties that come out with experience. I've grown more skeptical at some of our claims of "easy" and "expertless" in terms of implementation. 

I think there is also an additional interpretation of "expertless" -- meaning the knowledge is in the group around the work they are doing, not in the person at the front of the room. This I fully, fully, fully experience. As teachers or facilitators, LS gives us ways to unleash and engage everyone, not lead them. Does that distinction make sense?

In reply to Nancy White

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Leva Lee -

Hi Nancy

Yes I agree with you on all those points. Thanks for your added insights. There is still complexity in the simplicity. ;)

In reply to Nancy White

Re: Liberating / Structures = oxymoron?

by Michelle Laurie -
Picture of Group 2

Hi Nancy, 

In terms of selling, I've recently been in the situation where the client is really involved in the process. In fact they asked for a design for some meetings/processes and then go off and do it on their own. Thus, I end up explaining the process, how it works, how they might do it, (share the LS website) however they tend to decide to go ahead or not based on how its presented to them or how much chance they want to take. Often they have not experienced the process. Though I agree wholeheartedly that once you experience and live the process, its easier to understand and buy into the methods. 

Focusing on the invitation is interesting and something I'd like to think about more. Thanks! 

Cheers, 

Michelle