Gentle Bamboo Solutions

Letting the inmates run the asylum


"I let the inmates run the asylum," is one of the most-used, only half-joking way of describing the "facilitative approach" in adult education. This is also sometimes referred to as "harnessing the wisdom of the group." It involves the acceptance that "people already know" most if not all the things to be discussed. A facilitator, then, becomes someone who allows people to "learn from each other."

As long time friends and colleagues know, I don’t like that approach. Not one bit.

Imagine you pay good money to go watch a cricket play, and then you get invited on stage to improvise a few dialogues because many spectators have already read Shakespeare. Imagine going to a standup comedy show, and the comedian asks you to tell some jokes because "everyone is somewhat funny". Imagine a cricket match that allows every fan to bowl one over because… Well you get the picture. I’m not a fan of the facilitative approach.

Whether I’m paid to inform, educate or entertain, it is my responsibility to inform, educate and entertain.

If you use and/or like the facilitative approach, what am I missing in this? I honestly want to learn.

Treating at the asylum,