Disruptive facilitation #6 – Lessons from maths

May 22nd, 2010

I really enjoyed ┬áthis talk by Dan Meyer. I was attracted to it because I used to like maths, the problem solving and the patterns – until I got a teacher who sucked all the enthusiasm out of me. I didn’t expect this talk to reveal parallels with disruptive facilitation.

At about 2.50 minutes in Dan introduces ‘impatience with irresolution’ where we come to expect a sitcom-style 22 minute resolution to all of our problems. I really sat up and took notice then. He talks about ‘patient problem solving’ and his role of using compelling questions and student intuition to arrive at compelling answers. He argues that existing maths text books provide a smooth, or easy, route, whereas patient problem solving involves conversation. Now I’m really interested.

How does he do this? At about 6.55 in he explains. It’s all about taking away. I’m reminded of one of my major frustrations with facilitating. While issues may develop over months or years, there’s often an expectation that a single facilitated workshop will resolve everything and come up with action plans a la a sitcom resolution.

Finally, Dan recounts his five steps to better maths engagement. Could just as easily be applied to facilitation, especially disruptive facilitation.

1. Use multimedia

2. Encourage intuition

3. Ask the shortest question you can

4. Let (participants) build the problem

5. Be less helpful

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