Fun with a Serious Purpose: Facilitation techniques

PALS is like learning to dance. First you need to feel the basic underlying rhythm – the principles of respect, inclusion, equality and empowerment for all and belief in the possibility of change and need for discipline and self-reliance to achieve in life. Next you need to regularly practise particular routines learned from others who have been dancing for some time to really experience the benefits and changes so that the rhythm becomes automatic. Then you can really be creative with your own dance – fit, energetic and responsive to the dances of others.

Everyone can do this. But some people, including many teachers, mistake the practice routines for both the rhythm and the dance. They become over-concerned with ‘correctness’ and cannot judge which steps are necessary to maintain the rhythm and take the wrong short cuts to keep time. They get easily confused and their own dance becomes stiff and uninspired.  Yet other people think they are already ‘naturals’ and do not need to practice any steps or discipline and try to go straight to free-style. Those people can get tripped up and often bump into others and the whole dance becomes chaos.

The skill is to know when you have understood the rhythm enough to guide your detailed practice with confidence and when you need to go back to listen more carefully to the rhythm again. To realise that learning the dance is a lifelong process getting ever stronger through integrating inspiration from the rhythm, disciplined practice and creativity of your own dance. And to really watch, share inspiration and dance in harmony with others.

It is a key task of PALS facilitation is to inspire an excitement and enthusiasm for change. As an exciting process of self-empowerment and exploration, a process of breaking barriers that prevent men as well as women from achieving their full human potential. All PALS workshops and meetings aim to help people:

  • vision how their lives, families and communities could be in a more gender equitable world
  • identify achievable steps to change that they can implement immediately and also over the longer term
  • develop partipatory, listening and leadership skills
  • build confidence and creativity in visual communication, songs and theatre
  • form new friendship networks within which women and men treat each other as equal human beings.
  • develop facilitation skills to become champions of change in their households and communities

In PALS common human rights and concepts of social justice are progressively internalised as ‘natural’ through fun processes: drawing, songs and theatre. This then transforms perceptions of men as well as women, and inspires them to share what they have learned with others. As the basis for a sustainable movement for social change, in which equal human rights of all people including those currently most disadvantaged: women, young, old, poor, people with no formal education, ethnic minorities are an integral and no longer questioned element.

Facilitation Principles

PALS facilitation aims not only to teach diagram tools and skills, but to catalyse discussion, awareness and motivation ‘from within’ the participants themselves so that they own the change process and are able to facilitate themselves.

Key principles are:

  • start with visions and the positive
  • everyone can be a leader
  • action from Day 1
  • inclusion: everyone has a right to be listened to and respected
  • facilitation from the back
  • MAKE IT FUN!! or people will want to be paid to come back

Facilitation Process

In PALS the focus is on ‘active learning’. Every session or meeting should include a range of different elements to make the meeting lively and participatory, and develop peer sharing and facilitation skills of participants. The facilitator needs to develop listening and observation skills and experience in distinctive PALS facilitation techniques and processes adapted to specific mixes of participants, in particular:

  • Facilitate from the back so by the end participants will be able to facilitate themselves and others to continue to use the tools for empowerment and change when they get back home.

For details see Facilitation Process

Specific techniques include:

    • Visual communication through drawing and diagrams that people themselves own and can show to others.
    • Participatory drama to question preconceptions and ‘subvert’ cultural stereotypes and practice new ways of behaviour.
    • Songs and Dances people will take back home and sing in the shower to reinforce change.

Key resources


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