Teaching the Teachers
- 14 septembre 2014
- Posted by: ideadmin
- Category: News
How do you teach the Teachers?
It’s not a question you get to ask very often.
But then you don’t often get the chance to teach bishops, do you?
It’s a serious question.
Because a bishop, by definition, is someone who “governs”, “sanctifies” – and “teaches”, with all the power and authority of the Church behind him.
And you don’t want to argue with the power and authority of the Church, do you?
Well, I certainly don’t.
(See the video at the bottom of the article !)
So when the Southern African Bishops Conference invited me to Johannesburg to give a communications & media workshop to the bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland – that was the first question I asked.
How do you teach the Teachers?
I’m a slow thinker, so it took me a while to come up with the answer – which, when I thought of it, is so simple I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.
You don’t. You don’t teach the Teachers.
You give them an experience instead.
You put them through a process that allows them to see, hear, smell, touch and taste what you’re talking about – so that, by the end of it, they think they came up with the answers by themselves.
You create a situation that challenges them to find solutions from the inside out – so that, when it’s over, the Teachers have the impression of being self-taught.
Let me give you an example.
Instead of using abstract facts and figures to convince sceptical bishops about the importance of social media, we invited university students and school-kids from Soweto (over 50 of them) to come and connect personally with the bishops on the spot. It turned into a Facebook-frenzy.
By the end of the day (almost) every bishop in the room had convinced himself that tweeting, posting, blogging and taking selfies, was not only useful – but fun.
Let me give you another example.
Instead of complaining about how badly the bishops get treated by the press, or trying to explain complex media-management strategies, we surprised them with a very realistic crisis scenario involving corruption, embezzlement and, of course, sex.
Then we brought in the professional journalists who did exactly what journalists do: they asked uncomfortable questions, they contradicted and challenged the bishops to come up with answers that were clear, concise, concrete and coherent. The result was a group of slightly shaken, but definitely wiser and more media-savvy bishops.
Of course we also filmed the entire proceedings so that, during our evaluation session, the bishops were literally able to see for themselves – and understand.
Sounds exciting, doesn’t it?
It is – both exciting and effective.
But it takes a huge amount of work and it can’t be accomplished alone. Accompanying me to Johannesburg were Zambian Bishop, Moses Hamungole, and the Head of the Africa Desk at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Msgr Janvier Yameogo. The SACBC Media Office helped coordinate the workshop, a local four-person film crew provided audio-visual assistance, and the Jesuit Institute in South Africa offered invaluable logistical back-up and strategic advice.
Bishops, trainers, organizers, facilitators, teenagers, journalists…
Personally, what I find fascinating is how all of us have come home from the workshop feeling more or less the same thing: that, in the end, there were no teachers.
We were all learning from one another.
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