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TALK Learning Environment

The most important function of the host at a party is to set the scene and create a relaxed atmos-phere. The most important function of the TALK facilitator is to promote learning both inside and outside class. 

Facilitators are unlike traditional teachers in many ways. They focus on teaching skills that allow people to take charge of their own learning process. As the saying goes, if you give a man a fish he can feed himself today, if you teach a man to fish he can feed himself for a lifetime. By the same token, teaching learners to be self-directed frees you to help them where your assistance really can make a difference.

Traditional teachers spend most of their class time in the front of the room, behind a desk or lectern. TALK facilitators move around the classroom.

Traditional teachers are immediately visible. Facilitators aren’t.

Traditional teachers have very little interaction with individual students. Facilitators spend their time interacting individually with the people in their classroom which promotes better discipline and an exchange of cultural depth that can only be experienced in such situations.

Effective student involvement can take place when a large class is divided into the “Magic 2” or “Mini Classes”. 

A Mini Class is two or sometimes three people of approximately the same level studying together the same materials. For all practical purposes they form a more or less independent class,
a mini “class”.

Usually the partners in a Mini Class stay together over time. However if learners want to change partners, they’re free to do so. The facilitator assists them as necessary.

Each Mini Class studies at its own pace, taking charge of what it learns and performing self-assessment.

Two to three Mini Classes can join to form a larger unit, called a “Module”, with each Mini Class still maintaining it’s independence within the Module.

It’s impossible to separate the learning environment from the learning process and the people involved in this process. One of the main functions of the TALK facilitator is to help create a learning environment that stimulates the inherent learning abilities in each person. In a TALK class, the teacher is freed from being the overall authority figure and policeman in the classroom. Once freed, the teacher can help people individually as needed. 

Creating a playful, non-threatening environment is essential to the efficient functioning of any TALK class. A non-threatening environment allows the people involved (both learners and facilitators) to become more responsive to each other so that their creative energies are maximized. (See the graphic on page 5.)