The power of trusting the learner’s learning ability – A case study from Indonesia


After learned about FIRST-ADLX Framework and applied it to many facilitations that I did, I become more and more trusting in the learner’s ability to learn. I saw the proof from many facilitations and even from my son when I facilitate him to learn.

The last facilitation that I did is a soft skill training. Before I started the facilitation, I talked a lot to the principal of the school. He asked about what is the importance of learning that skill. I explained brief information about the topic and its relevance to apply the expertise in education, especially for the teacher.

In the beginning, the teachers came with pens and notes in their hands. They seem ready for a lecture. Once I started my facilitation, they look surprised by the type of activities. I used many games as metaphor activities to explain the topic, but those are not the most critical activities. Before I learned FIRST, I used to be trapped to prepare such active and extraordinary activities, but then, I and the learners, forget about the main point of learning itself. For me, in my last facilitation, the most important activities are Reviewing (3rd domain in FIRST Framework) and Reflection on Reality (5th domain in FIRST Framework). When I facilitate teachers to reflect on the topic to their real life, that is the time they process the information that I gave. They relate the topic to their own real-life, their thought about the benefit that they could get if they apply the skill, they tried to find their AHA moment by thinking what was behind the information. For example, a teacher-related active listening topic to how hard it was to sit still and listen to their students without think to argue or judge them since the beginning.

In the end, all learners not only answer the first question that the principal asked me (what is the importance of learning that skill), but they also mentioned that the topic is really contextual and so much related to their real-life as a teacher. They also said that they need that skill. Did I make the teachers think that skill is essential? NO. I just gave each of the time to think and reflect about the topic to their own life, what is the importance of this topic for their role as teacher, how they can benefit from this skill as a teacher, and in what way they will use this after the facilitation.

The same thing happened to my son. Now, he is six years old and could swim farther and faster than me in the swimming pool, which has depth 2 meters (his height now only 1 meter or less). No one taught him to swim, not even me. I facilitate him to learn, and he learned by himself. Did I teach my son to swim? NO. I also can’t swim! What I did to him was asking questions. For example, the first time he scared to slide down to the water, I asked him: “have you ever handle your fear? How did you do it?” then he thought. He answered that to conquer fears, and we have to try it first. I appreciate his answer and question back, “so what do you need to do now to be brave sliding down to the water?”. Then, after he conquered his fear and start being brave to slide down, I wrap his thought by asking the same thing: “So, what is your feeling right now after being brave to slide down to the water? What should we do to manage our fear?”

In another moment, to facilitate him to learn to swim, I asked him: “do you have any idea about how to float in the water and not be sunk underwater?” After he could float on the water, I asked another to continue his learning, “How can we take a breath while swimming? How can we manage our breath so we can swim in long-range?”. Then he thought again. That is the only thing that I did. Gave him questions to stimulate thinking. I never tell him what to do, simply because I don’t know what to do (I can’t swim). It turns out, that is an effective way to make him learn and find his way to do something. It surprised me.

That case has no difference with the 1st example, the active listening facilitation. They thought about themselves. I facilitate them to learn by giving questions. In my experience, it works if we trust the learner, and not feed them information and push our perspective in the learning facilitation.

Sulistami Prihandini, M.Si
FIRSTedu Master Facilitator

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