The Art of Facilitation:  Time Management,  Learning Events,  and Culture

What follows is an excerpt from a longer article:  “Time Management,  Learning Events,  and Culture,”  by Jenny Giezendanner,  Certified Dialogue Education Practitioner.  The article is free and you can download it here to read the rest.     Rubber time in Indonesia,  mañana in Latin America,  the Pünktlichkeit of the Germanic – each characterizes a particular perception of time in its respective culture.  Because many of us regularly interact in more than one cultural context,  this variation in time consciousness creates a significant challenge when we teach adults. Starting and finishing sessions throughout a class day on time – as defined by local perceptions of time – is an important means of acknowledging the value of local cultural norms and thus of demonstrating respect.  But how can we do that in appropriate,  sensitive,  and respectful ways in the variety of cultures in which we work?  How can we possibly define guidelines for time management with such a wide diversity confronting us? R-E-S-P-E-C-T Perhaps the greatest principle guiding Dialogue Education is respect.  In any given teaching context we aim to demonstrate respect to all participants.  To achieve this,  however,  requires doing our homework and finding out,  ahead of time and then continuing through our sojourn in that culture,  what kind of time-consciousness and what kind of time constraints most affect our learners in that context.  This is very much part of the standard pre-event practical research or Learning Needs and Resources Assessment that we do about our learners.  We ask our contacts about arrangements and expectations regarding the event,  study any articles or information written about that cultural context,  and,  once we're on-site,  we observe how people manage time locally.  The opportunity to make such observation is one of the great benefits of arriving at the teaching site several days in advance of the actual event.  Who has stories about facilitating time in cultures other than your own?