What can you learn from a twenty-something who just found her purpose in life but also didn’t manage to strive in the formal education system? Quite a lot!
I will share with you the lessons I learned through my lifelong learning and self-education. I will show you how to use the ups but more important the downs of your life as an inspiration and powerhouse to aim to fulfil your life’s purpose. With this first post, I would like to give you some insights into my life and my professional aspiration.
To start off, I do not consider myself a failure of the formal education system. More correctly, it failed me, as it does with so many. Just being in the early stages of my life I already went through enough hard times to fill at least two books. The German education as formal as it is was never able to adjust or even just address this nonlinear path I am on. These leaves me with an education to become a teacher for mathematics and arts so unfinished that it does not allow me to enter any labour market niche. I am an educational enthusiast and a progressive thinker with strong political and ethical beliefs. My life’s path and the expectations of today’s society just made me stumble and lose my very own way out of sight.
But then Mollina happened!
In September 2016, the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) invited me to their Training for Trainer to Mollina, Spain. We were a small group of political activists from all corners of the globe, not knowing what we got ourself into. BUT – as everyone who ever was in Mollina knows – Mollina does something with you! For me, it was as someone kicked open a door that was locked and hidden behind sleeping beauty like rose bushes. It introduces the world of nonformal education to me, which was the answer to all my struggles during studying school education at the university. It satisfied a longing of my soul for a more holistic approach to human growth and development. It put my way right back under my feets again!
After I had completed the Training of Trainers, I became one of the founding members of the IUSY Pool of Trainers together with my comrades and now friends. Ever since I conducted training sessions for IUSY, the Young European Socialist and my home organisation on a broad range of topics. In this, I found my purpose. I wanted to shift existing systems, yes, even the whole world with the measures and methods that nonformal education provides. Here my strong educational predisposition, which once led me to choose my academic career, helped me out. In short time I was able to establish an extensive knowledge of methods, approaches and so on, to adopt visual facilitation skills and become a liked and appreciated trainer, by both partners and participants.
The participants are the centre of my training philosophy. I do not aim just to transfer information and knowledge; moreover, I want to facilitate change and growth within them. I am to reach my participants not just on a cognitive level but more important on an emotional and empathic level. Therefore I call my training practice affective facilitation. In the sessions, I aim to create a sense of belonging to an extended community but also the recognition of each participant’s individuality within this network. I am for a learning process that starts with the creation of an understanding of the individual capabilities and knowledge existing in the group. After that, I choose methods to empower the participants to see connections and similarities and finally to enable them to construct independent of me a shared knowledge and abilities based on this.
These thoughts guide me in the creation of my training sessions and seminars and the choice of practices and methods. I practice for example appreciative inquiry, the circle way and include methods like open space, storytelling and other forms of creative expression. My good working knowledge of different areas allows me to
adapt and learn rapidly about various academic and non-academic fields. Therefore the range of my topics reaches from personal and organisational development to such as climate change, labour or human rights.
Now, with this blog, I want to reach out beyond my usual partners and create a platform to promote nonformal education. I will share my knowledge and tell my stories as trainer and facilitator but also as a lifelong learner myself here. As well I am longing for an exchange with other learners and facilitators to discover new approaches and practices. From time to time I hope to be able to give the stage to other amazing trainers I meet along my way.
But most important I want to get input and feedback from you, the reader, on my methods and practices to keep growing and to be able to write about what interests you!
Let’s facilitate change together!