“Caring can be learned by all human beings, can be worked into the design of every life, meeting an individual need as well as a pervasive need in society.”
Mary Catherine Bateson
In an era of meritocracy, amplified surveillance and high tuition fees students are increasingly under pressure. At the same time a creeping discourse of resilience is on the rise. The blog post, Critiquing Discourses of Resilience in Education (Webster, 2017) provides a good jumping off point for this. In parallel teaching staff are also facing increased precarity and casualisation whilst simultaneously pressurised to satisfy demands for excellence in the face of reduced resources (Ivancheva, 2015).
This workshop will afford participants an opportunity to critically reflect on the resilience discourse. How it relates to their own perceptions and experiences of care within education, specifically in the open, and how power and influence contribute to the narrative. Increasingly, open spaces that once offered support and strength now are places that institutions insist staff must occupy to augment their profile. They are also becoming increasingly unsafe, especially for marginalised users.
LEGO Serious Play as a workshop format has a democratising methodology as each participant is given an opportunity to speak as everyone contributes their reflection, on their terms, and also all reflection is centred on the build itself rather than the individual (James, 2015). One example of this are those who have a different language, cultural background or are an introvert; whereby the person can build their story and another participant might relay it, thus “giving voice to what would otherwise have remained unsaid” in a more traditional setting (Thomson, Johnston and Reid, 2018).
The other central tenets of the workshop are the inclusion of a therapeutic element and a ‘lean in’ approach. It offers the chance to step aside from the stress and strains of busy lives and give full attention to set challenges; to focus a lens on care within teaching in the open through creativity and storytelling. Work with the hands takes over from conscious thought and technology is put away, aside from taking photographs at the end of each challenge. Serious play and fun are crucial outcomes of the workshop in addition to the topic covered, and possess within them an underlying layer of care (Roos and Victor, 2018).
This workshop ensures that every single participant is engaged throughout the entire session; working to create metaphors and stories with the bricks. This will include a warm up exercise, an individual build and concluding with a group build. After each challenge all participants share the story of their build, and importantly only the aspects they are happy and willing to share. There will be an additional level of challenge introduced to the traditional LSP methodology, adding a critical twist to the approach. Should the need require we are happy for remote participants to join on screen as long as they have access to their own LEGO. Participants will be encouraged to share their outputs via the conference hashtag and possibly blog posts after the event.
Note: On the submission instructions it was advised that workshop entries include chair of session: we have approached Catherine Cronin who has agreed to be our chair if successful. With an emotive topic under discussion this may require an additional level of sensitivity from chair and facilitators
The structure consists of:
1. Fast warm up build, which gets people started and addresses any technical issues with the bricks and is a simple single challenge to all. It has no personal back story or implications. Approx 1 minute to build, and depending on number of participants 10 feedback (note this is an individual build but in competitive situations I have seen groups spontaneously come together to complete it)
2. A personal individual build: build time 5 minutes, and approx 10 for feedback
3. Group build: build time 15 and 15 for feedback
Five minutes to then thank and summarise the discussions.
Both the individual and group build challenges will focus on care within teaching and learning, specifically in the open.
Ivancheva, M. (2015). The age of precarity and the new challenges to the academic profession. Studia Universitatis Babes-Bolyai – Studia Europaea, Issue 1, pp. 39-48
James, A (2015) Innovative Pedagogical Practices: Innovating in the Creative Arts with LEGO. Commissioned by the Higher Education Academy.
Roos, J. and Victor, B. (2018), “How It All Began: The Origins Of LEGO® Serious Play®”, International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 326-343. https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54.18-025
Thomson, C.; Johnston, J. L. and Reid, H. (2018), “Rich Stories: Embedding LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Into Undergraduate Medical Education”, International Journal of Management and Applied Research, Vol. 5, No. 4, pp. 313-325. https://doi.org/10.18646/2056.54.18-024
Webster, D. (2017). Critiquing Discourses of Resilience in Education. [Blog] Fruits of the Pedagogic Life. Available at: https://davewebster.org/2017/05/14/a-contrary-view-critiquing-discourses-of-resilience-in-education/ [Accessed 17 Nov. 2019].
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