I've been working with Socratic Seminars International for the past several years, and part of what we do is travel to different cities all over the country running one-day open registration workshops for K-12 teachers, training them how to facilitate rich classroom dialogue with their students.  Mind you, these aren't your standard "sit and get" workshops where you listen to someone lecture through the entirety of the day, the teachers actually get to DO.  By DO, I mean that all the teachers get to put their "student hat" on, and practice being a participant in a Socratic Seminar the same way their students will once they bring this strategy back to their classrooms.  What this ends up looking like is an eclectic group of 30-60 teachers from a given region, sitting in a big circle, and engaging in an authentic dialogue centered around a compelling and ambiguous text.  Watching these Seminars unfold into something unique and beautiful each time is probably one of my favorite things about the work we do.  Such amazing insights about life and the world we live in that these teachers always bring to light!

 Considering we're always in a different city, and no one will know the difference, we typically use the same text for the workshop dialogue.  Initially this was a product of convenience, but as time went by, it became more and more interesting to see all the varying perspectives and insights about the same text as we introduced it to different groups.  Now how could that be?  How could that be that the exact same text, and the exact same opening question could lend itself to so many diverse thoughts and perspectives?  That's because each time we were in a new city, be it Chicago, Miami, San Antonio, New York, San Diego, or Seattle, the "Field of Conversation" would change.  A Field of Conversation, is a term coined by William Isaacs of  Dialogos, and is defined as the combined atmosphere, energy, and memories of the people who are interacting at any given time.

What are the implications of this?

The implications of this is that most people don't step into different "Fields of Conversation" often.  Most people have the same conversations on the same topics with the same people, and are then surprised that they seldom learn anything new from these experiences!  Both personally and professionally we can all learn from the above example.  Whether it is organizational change that you are seeking in your professional life, or a personal shift of some sort, try bringing a diverse collection of minds into the fold.  You'd be so surprised at how the same "data" can be perceived and interpreted in such different ways based on someone else's life experiences, energetic presence, emotional predisposition, or even the weather they've been experiencing recently!  We're all the same blank canvas for the most part when we enter this world, then as the days turn into months, and the months turn into years, we are all painted by our experiences, and end up being these beautiful "pieces of art" that are completely unique to ourselves, and equally different from one another.  

Changing the field both internally and externally.

In addition to bringing different minds into your life, another way to expand consciousness and expedite change both personally and professionally is to tinker around with your own "field of consciousness and awareness."  This can be as simple as reading a different type of book than you usually might, driving to work via a different route,  or as extreme as taking a trip to Africa, either way, it is inevitable that their will be "new paint added to your canvas," and there will be a certain degree of change that occurs to the lens with which you were looking at your current situation through.  

Long story short, change is hard, but change is needed in some cases , and if you're open and optimistic, there is an infinite amount of "Fields"  out there in the world that are just waiting to be tapped into, and authentic dialogue is one of those.

 

 

Comment