Better learning with all your senses

Shaping transformation with multisensual methods

Albert Einstein once said: “Learning is experiencing. Everything else is just information”. We all know our five basic senses: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and feeling. We use them every day without realizing how important they are for receiving and keeping information. To experience the trustworthiness of Einstein’s expression, on July 06, 2018 students and stakeholders from different professional fields gathered to participate in a workshop called “Shaping transformation with multisensual methods” organized by PerLe - project for successful teaching and learning.

Text: Kseniya Bisioukova

 As a part of the Real-World Lab seminar at Kiel University the workshop was facilitated by the co-founder of the Academy of Visionautics Boris Goldammer. During a sunny summer day in a relaxed and creative atmosphere in the courtyard of the old Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design participants experienced new methods to learn and to gain knowledge by using different senses.

I was one of this lucky people. My name is Kseniya Bisioukova and I am a master student at the School of Sustainability at Kiel University. I am a member of several university initiatives and I am always searching for new approaches and methods to transmit information to different stakeholders. Therefore, I was very excited about this workshop.

 

A moving introduction

The workshop started with an unusual introduction, we had to connect syllables of our names with body movements. We were standing in a circle, and one by one, were repeating the name of a previous person the exact same way he or she greeted everyone before, by showing our names with a body movement.  This exercise broke the ice, getting familiar with the unknown, and created a comfortable atmosphere for further communication. It was so easy and natural with the help of changing our posture and gestures we taught each other our names.

Exercise number one: MOVEMENT NAME GAME. Connect your words to movements and position yourself in the space and in the group.

 

The fruity Conversation

Afterwards, we were invited to have a fruit snack and continued our conversation. Each fruit had a card with a question attached which helped us to find mutual interest and learn more about hobbies or personal preferences of the participants. Besides enjoying fruits and conversation, we had to keep one or two kernels for the next exercise.

Exercise number two: GETTING-TO-KNOW-YOU-QUESTIONS. Experiencing the sense of taste in a group to break the ice through a dialogue to support finding common interests.

 

A bunch of hopes and wishes

The next stop in our multisensory experience was a collection of hopes and wishes. Each one of us got a small flower pot and had to plant the kernel we saved from the previous exercise. That symbolic action made me feel very good and optimistic.

Exercise number three: SEEDS OF GOOD INTENTIONS THRIVE. The importance of performing rituals which connect people with positive emotions and to inspire them for actions.

 

Completely tangled

As a next step to strengthen our learning community, we were asked to unwind a ball of yarn. Every one of us had an end of the thread and without dropping it, we had to find the other end. Therefore, we were divided into groups of two. That exercise was followed by a discussion in pairs about moments of our life when we were proud of ourselves. It was not only a nice self-reflection which opened our willingness to continue the journey in the world of senses, but also to discover new perspectives of a person who was a co-participant.

Exercise number four: DIALOGUE INTERVIEWS. Use active listening to gain more information about others and to develop a better understanding of a team.

 

 

Colorful visions

As I realized after some time, Boris purposely spent so much time as a facilitator to create strong relationships between the participants since it was a preparation for our next step where we had to be open and share our visions. And guess what tool we used? Creatively, we had to draw our visions, what we want and what we want to achieve. Boris helped some of us to make a first step by proposing to draw three random figures, so the start of our drawing would be easier. We used different colors and forms, we were free to express ourselves. After a lunch-break, which we spent also outside while enjoying the sunny weather, we presented our masterpieces at the so called “Vernissage”. The most interesting part for me were the other participant’s questions. Each one of us had a different personal perception of each other’s drawings, thus a detailed explanation of our visions was required. Once again, I was reminded that we understand information differently and we should be encouraged to apply different means of communication to transmit information and knowledge.

Exercise number five: VISION MAP. Let creative expressions be of help to formulate your vision and dreams.

 

Evaluate the barriers

We were halfway through the workshop and now it was time to evaluate barriers which prevent us from reaching our visions. Boris asked us to divide those barriers into two groups: internal (personal), which we could influence and external (cultural, social imprints, political and financial systems, etc.), which are more difficult to change but modifiable as well. That division helped me to structure thoughts and focus on challenges which I could influence.

Exercise number six: SYSTEM MAP.  Make a structure and the surrounding system visible to clearly identify problems.

 

Change of perspectives and glasses

Once we were all ready with the list, we divided into groups of three people and had to visit different corners in the space hosted by different characters. Each group coming to a corner had to choose who would switch into the character assigned to that corner, a second person to ask for solutions, and the third to write down all the suggestions. For a better understanding of characters there were some accessories, such as pink glasses for the optimist, a hat with bells for a court jester, a silver coat for a person from the future, a tambourine for a shaman etc.  In my group, I slipped into the shoes of the court jester and shared my perspective on another participant’s problem. It was a rather unusual feeling, since a jester historically had an ambiguous attitude: on the one hand a jester is a silly person; on the other hand he or she is a wise person who has direct access to the power in the state (king or queen) and who is allowed to speak the ultimate truth. I felt free to express my perception of the problem of my group mate and I was happy that my opinion helped to look at his situation from a different perspective.

Exercise number seven: PERSPECTIVE CAROUSEL. Look at the situation from different angels and let your artistic nature help you.

 

 

In conclusion, I would like to say that it was an amazing adventure. I experienced powerful learning tools and discovered a great boost of artistic energy and my creative side. Moreover, the workshop had a good structure and time management. I got a better understanding of how important our senses are while presenting new information or evolving solutions. I will use these multisensory methods not only in my future work but also for my personal development. I highly recommend everyone to enjoy/share this great experience. And of course, it was very refreshing and funny to engage with a diverse group of participants.

  • The Academy of Visionautics e.V. in Berlin and their European partners have compiled some resources and a method database for transformative learning on this website.
  • A workbook (in different languages) to develop your personal vision can be found here.

 

The Real-World Lab seminar from PerLe continues in the winter semester 2018/19. International students are invited to participate in the Transforming Capitalism Lab and/or the Real-World Lab method seminar (with a focus on Design Thinking and Theory U this semester). For further information, send an email to Frauke Godat: fgodat@uv.uni-kiel.de.

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