Guidelines for Effective Learning
Dr Brian Monger
I tell students – “I can “teach” you nothing. But I can try and help you learn. My job is to try to provide you with an environment in which you can learn. Ground Rules are part of that environment. If established early they will surely help us avoid a lot of wasted energy later on.
Guidelines and Ground Rules
These guidelines, often referred to as “ground rules” or “community norms,” should provide the community within a workshop or class a framework to ensure open, respectful dialogue and maximum participation.
10 Commonly Used Ground Rules
Ground rules should be developed and adapted for every unique context. Appropriate ground rules may depend partially on age, region, and other contextual factors:
- Practise politeness.
- ‘Listen with an open mind’
- Listen actively — respect others when they are talking.
- Speak first from good research; next from your own experience. Be aware of generalising.
- Do not be afraid to respectfully challenge one another by asking questions, but refrain from personal attacks — focus on ideas.
- Refrain from aggressive and disrespectful language
- Participate to the fullest of your ability — community growth depends on the inclusion of every individual voice.
- Instead of invalidating somebody else’s story with your own spin on her or his experience, add and share your own story and experience.
- The goal is not to agree — it is to gain a deeper understanding.
- Be conscious of body language and nonverbal responses — they can be as disrespectful as words.
Listening with an Open Mind
One of the things I do to establish the ground rule of ‘Listen with an open mind’ is that I ask someone to pour me a glass of water. But just when they are about to start pouring, I cover the glass with a coaster. This makes the water spill and irritates the other person. With some humour I manage to get them say ‘If you keep your glass covered, I can’t provide any water to you’. Then I move in with my ground rule that if you keep a closed mind, this is exactly how others feel. Once water is poured in the glass ,it is not mandatory for me to drink it, is it ? I can taste it and if I don’t like the taste or temperature, I can just leave there or even throw it away. Similarly all you need to do is to keep an open mind to let the information go in. After that you process it and decide what you want to do with it.