In GAMEchange empowerment methodologies concepts of equal rights and social justice for all are progressively internalised as ‘natural rhythm change’ through fun processes: drawing, songs and theatre. This internalisation transforms the perceptions of men as well as women, inspiring 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.
Learning 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.
‘Facipulating rhythm change’
The key task of GAMEchange facilitation is to inspire and constantly reinforce an excitement and enthusiasm for change – the new rhythm. As an exciting process of self-empowerment and exploration, a process of breaking barriers that prevent men as well as women of different ages and from different backgrounds from achieving their full human potential. This means:
- having ‘fun outside the comfort zone’ – leaving top-down mechanical school-type teaching to being ‘creative (and subversive) with culture’.
- facipulation of chaos – the facilitator has to give voice, power and responsibility for learning to participants, but also know when to intervene and build on what emerges in order to reinforce the rhythm change and underlying principles.
Fun with a serious purpose
Drawing is not just ‘pretty pictures for illiterates’, but a way of clarifying and communicating very complex concepts. The aim is not ‘correct pictures’ but sophisticated analysis of complex issues and identification of realisable change strategies. Participants create their own pictorial manuals and notes – not only reducing costs, but also making it more likely they will remember and implement what they have learned. Using drawings means that people who cannot read and write, as well as embattled CEOs of global companies and government officials, are able to put their experience and ideas on paper and communicate clearly to each other. For facilitation details see: Fun with a Serious Purpose: Drawing and Visual Communication.
Songs and dance are used to subvert existing cultural stereotypes and reinforce and communicate the tools. Groups of participants work together as a participatory exercise to produce a series of songs, often with dance, and ‘song competitions’ are held to decide the best songs for each process. These songs and dances then become an integral part of group meetings and dissemination. The aim is not a polished karaoke-style performance to raise awareness, but to directly engage ALL participants in identifying and rehearsing changes. There are no professional actors or singers, no one leads and everyone participates. people will take back home and sing in the shower to reinforce change. For facilitation details see: Fun with a serious purpose: songs and dance.
to question preconceptions and ‘subvert’ cultural stereotypes and practice new ways of behaviour.
Participatory role plays and theatre are used to directly engage participants in identifying and rehearsing changes, and new ways in which women and men can relate to each other, and new ways of addressing inequality. Role plays are an important part of developing confidence to change, examining peer sharing strategies and ‘significant changes’ impact assessment looking at past, current and future scenarios. The aim of transformatory drama is not polished performance theatre by ‘good actors’, but EVERYONE BEING AN ACTOR, STRENGTHENING THEIR VOICE AND EXPLORING CHANGE. For facilitation details see: Fun with a serious purpose: transformatory drama.
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:
Facilitation from the back
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.
In PALS, the best facilitation is ‘from the back’ where the facilitator empowers participants to express themselves. PALS facilitation skills are very different from those taught in many other ‘facilitation’ trainings, but the approach leads to more effective and sustainable change outcomes. Through encouraging participants to speak and asking a few pointed questions, good facilitation manages to arrive at a point where most of the important issues come from participants themselves. Participants are then in turn able to facilitate similar activities without external support when they go back home.
This requires practice and experience – and often a leap of faith to let things take their course – and is hard even for those trained in many other participatory awareness-raising and training techniques. It also requires intense observation of the participatory process, and use of some key techniques to increase participation
start each session/day with a participatory pairwise recapitulation of the previous session, or questions on perceptions and expectations of the meeting while others are arriving.
Start from the back
or with minority participants in all feedback (e.g. men first if they are poor and fewer in number) to show respect for those who are likely to be less confident and to promote inclusion.
introduce some sort of tool such as a stick or a banana to represent a microphone. It is only the person holding this tool who is allowed to talk.
Applause and respect
for everyone at all times through a culturally relevant show of appreciation following each presentation.
No political correctness
No one should feel they cannot ask questions or say things which they feel – provided this is done in a real spirit of wanting to understand and does not undermine the free expression of others.
Make sure everyone has contributed
at the end of each stage anyone who has not spoken or drawn on the diagram must be given the ‘microphone’ or pen and encouraged to comment/draw on the diagram.
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.
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
- 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