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Active Reviewing Tips – April 1999


Active Reviewing Tips for Dynamic Experiential Learning -

~ ~ A C T I V E . R E V I E W I N G . T I P S
~ ~ the free monthly newsletter associated with the
~ ~ Editor: Roger Greenaway
~ ~ Vol. 2.4 April 1999

Different terms are preferred in different countries. Usage and
meaning varies across different cultures. In this ezine it's
called 'reviewing'. The main focus is on ACTIVE reviewing


~~ Main Feature: THERAPY FOR ALL
~~ Readers' Responses
~~ Recommended Site: The Compass
~~ Training Workshop: Tools for Reviewing in OMD
~~ The Extra Bit: Experiential Learning on the Web
~~ About Active Reviewing Tips
~~ How to Unsubscribe

This issue happens to mainly about reviewing with managers. But
most of the reviewing tools and principles described apply to
reviewing with just about anyone. Over several issues, 'Active
Reviewing Tips' will reflect the balance you will find on the website - active reviewing works well with
people of all ages - young and not so young.


What do music, art, play, exercise, adventure, drama, brief,
group, narrative, recreational, psycho- and solution-focused have
in common?
All are therapies brimming over with ideas for active reviewing!

You should now expect to see a safety warning because some
therapies involve a few years of training before you can
responsibly use the methods involved.

Of course you won't become an expert in hypnotherapy by reading
this tip sheet. That's because you won't find any ideas from the
more intrusive and intensive therapies here!

Something that has always puzzled me is how participants in
experiential learning are encouraged to take risks in activities
but are expected to play safe during reviews. It's as if
emotional turbulence is 'OK' during the experience but is
'off-limits' during review time. It's as if EXPERIENCING deep
emotions during activities is OK and is seen as something a
trainer is ''qualified'' and ''expected'' to generate. Encourage
people to EXPRESS deep emotions during review time? This is often
something that educators/trainers feel they are ''NOT qualified
for'' - despite their deliberate use of emotionally intense
activities to reach the parts that less dynamic approaches to
learning don't touch.

These are typically people who are worried about ''opening up a
can of worms'' (during a review) but who see it as their job/duty
to shake things around (unopened cans of worms?) during the
'experience' phase of learning.

Where this is the case, it would seem to make (ethical) sense,
EITHER to try to reduce the emotional intensity of the
experience, OR to provide trainers with greater skills and
confidence to facilitate reviews in which people are encouraged
to express feelings.

'Whole person development' includes emotional development and
spiritual development - aspects of development that are difficult
to capture in words alone.

One response to this difficulty is to avoid it - or leave it to
the mysteries of the subsconscious to deal with. But this, I
believe, is a cop out - because there are plenty of therapeutic
methods available that help people to explore, express and
integrate their emotional and spiritual selves. In special cases
you may want to refer people to a therapist, but in most
education and training settings, I am suggesting that you can
simply borrow some of the more basic tools and ideas from some of
the 'less intrusive' therapies.

I bet that you are doing this already. Much therapy is talk-based
or pure talk. I am sure that a therapist sitting in on your
reviewing sessions would recognise many of your questions as
being therapeutic. For example - have you ever asked ''How did
you feel when...?'' or ''How do you feel now?''

I did say ''basic'' therapy! But these apparently easy questions
do not always get the expressive responses we hope for. This is
when it is time to try asking the question through art, music,
drama, play etc. By encouraging learners to communicate through
different media you are being a real facilitator - you are
(hopefully) making it EASIER for people to respond and express

But don't choose a method that is even less appealing than talk!

Two issues ago I was encouraging you to stop asking questions
(just for an experiment to help you think more about how and why
you use questions). So it might come as no surprise that I am now
suggesting that you experiment with less talking - both by you
and by learners. What replaces talk? How else can we communicate
about experiences?

Verbal language is a wonderfully rich and flexible medium through
which to communicate and through which to explore new territory.
But it is not our only language. To discover and develop our
other languages we need to switch off the chat channel from time
to time. We will find that other languages (with practice)
provide good or better alternatives for expressing, communicating
about, and learning from the many different dimensions of

Here is an example of an articulate manager who chose to review
his course experience through finger-painting:

''I just dipped my hands in a load of paint and was splashing
about making things that were 3D, that were textural and that
flowed. I made a conscious decision to cut my square piece of
paper into an oval shape, because I wanted to give a feeling that
things flowed - weren't angular. There was an overlap and one
thing ran into another. I was mixing paints up and mixing mediums
up and didn't put any straight lines in this thing at all which
was symbolic to me about how I'd like to be really. I'd like
things to flow around and for there to be peaks and troughs. I
don't particularly want to work on an even plane, nor do I want
to compartmentalise things in straight lines. I would like to
think there's some purpose to everything I do that relates to
something else.

''I wasn't conscious of anyone around me or anything. I just got
into the exercise and let my thoughts run free. I couldn't have
done that unless I was pretty totally relaxed. I couldn't have
done it unless I'd had a build up in terms of time and
opportunity to think about me and how I operated and how I wanted
to operate.''

The full finger-painting text is at
For art-based reviewing ideas see

I was once working with a very impressive team of managers. They
did so well at each challenge it was like watching a game of
unopposed rugby (no sweat and everything goes to plan). I felt
that they were not being challenged enough to get to their next
level of performance. I happened to mention the word 'drama' and
for the first time they looked worried. Maybe it's not the best
way to sell drama, but I sensed it would challenge them in a new
and useful way. And I think it did. Through drama they shared
their ideas about teamwork. Through drama they explored future
possibilities. Their initial discomfort paralleled the kind of
discomfort that other groups experience in more physical
challenges. But once they had discovered this new medium for
expressing themselves and communicating ideas - it had opened up
a new range of experiences and a new channel of communication.
Not only could they ''talk the hind legs off a donkey'' they
could now act the hind legs of a donkey!

For more about drama-based reviewing methods, type the word
'drama' into the search box on my home page
or take a look at the ACTIVE REVIEWING article at

I will explore other therapy-based reviewing methods in future
issues. There is just too much 'therapy' material for one issue!
In development training I have come across ideas that are
borrowed or adapted from practices used in:
Recreational Therapy
Play Therapy
Art Therapy
Narrative Therapy
Brief Therapy
Solution Focused Therapy
Drama Therapy
Exercise Therapy
Music Therapy
Group Therapy
Adventure Therapy

Would you like to add to the above list or contribute ideas?
Please write to:




from Josie Crawley
''One of my favourite examples of reviewing is 'The web'.

''I like this as it is physically active, very visual, builds
from everybody's learning and experience. Students stand in a
circle facing each other. The facilitator has a number of
different coloured balls of wool. Each colour stands for a
strand of an area you are reviewing. As the students throw the
ball of wool to each other they add information about that
strand, and the web grows.

''For example if I was reviewing communication skills, one ball
might be non-directive listening skills, another
directive/influencing skills and a third ball environment. As
the students review the skills they weave a net of communication,
supportive enough to allow a client to trust themselves to it.''

[Thanks Josie. The use of colour adds interesting possibilities!]


from Elinor Spieler [extracts]

''I was intrigued about what I understood your position to be on
the use of questions ...

''I am quite a fierce believer in the need to promote REFLECTION
among participants. This means that I often create opportunities
for silent reflection and writing before a period of open group
"questioning" or discussion and dialogue. Of course, pair work
(as well as small group work) is also a way to promote reflection
extroverted, not introverted).

''I don't believe it is necessary for everyone to share all of
their own learnings and observations with the group, as long as
they have acknowledged their learning to themselves, and perhaps
shared it with one or more others.

''My very favorite questions are VERY open-ended. "What did you
learn from this?" "What happened?" "What did you observe?" "How
did you experience that?" "Well - what's going on? What do you
think?" etc. I find these to be very basic and fundamental to
my style of facilitation.

''Just wanted to thank you for your newsletter! I have been
receiving it without acknowledging you for providing it - to the
world - for free!

''I appreciated your description of "Revolver" and will certainly
make use of it in the near future.''

Elinor Spieler

Dear Elinor,
I was partly experimenting with a more provocative writing style.
I was wanting to get people to think about whether they do ask
too many questions (open or closed) as in my view this is often
the case.

I use a lot of questions myself, and I recognise in myself and in
others how easy it is to ask too many. I would like to think that
I use questions when they are the best method for the situation,
rather than because it's my default method or because I haven't
considered other possibilities.

I think it's important to vary reviewing methods - partly for the
same reasons that you would vary the 'active' part of a
programme, and also to cater for the variety of learning style
preferences that there will be in any group.

To answer your concern/interest about whether you understood me
correctly - I think you have. My main purpose was to get people
thinking about how they use questions. You clearly do this
already. And I like what you describe. How about including
questions that generate questions from learners?


Dear Reader,
If you would like to write in on any ''reviewing'' topic please
send your message to (for private
messages) or to (for publication). If
there is any doubt, I will always contact you to ask your
permission before publishing anything you write.


~ ~ ~ Find out what the editor does for a living!

Most of my training workshops are provided as part of a client's
in-house staff development programme. Here is a rare open
workshop that provides opportunities for individuals, freelance
trainers, staff development officers etc. to experience a live
workshop! - thanks to XCL: ''Ordinary People doing Extraordinary
''Tools for Reviewing in Outdoor Management Development''
Saturday 19th to Sunday 20th June 1999
Nantwich, Cheshire, England
provided by Roger Greenaway, hosted by XCL
or request a leaflet from:
Full List of 20 workshops:
[reviewing skills for working with young people and with adults]



Kevin Eikenberry of the Discian Group has recently announced a
new service called the Compass
http://compass.discian.comwhich should be of interest to Active
Reviewers. The training and development
sites on the Compass have been reviewed by the Discian Group's
editorial team using the "Five F's"--Fast, Focused, Facts, Fresh,
and Fun. The Discian Group Compass is meant to help you navigate
the Internet to find the best tools, resources and ideas in the
areas of Training and Consulting. You can sign up for the ezine
from the website or by sending an email to
with Subscribe in the subject line.


ListBot, the provider of this mailing service, have extended
their limit on message size from 10k to 100k. Be assured that I
have no plans to jam your mailbox with giant messages! But this
extra space does allow me to include material from other writers
that I think will be of value to you.

'Active Reviewing Tips' will continue to be mainly ORIGINAL and
PRACTICAL material.
But THE EXTRA BIT carries no such guarantees!

Tim Pickles (a former colleague) has kindly allowed me to include
this well researched article. I guess that most Active Reviewing
Tips subscribers will also have an interest in ...

Experiential Learning ... on the Web
** Reproduced from LearningWire, a free digest to accompany

Many of us engaged in professional learning have a broad
understanding of the work of David Kolb. His highly influential
book entitled Experiential Learning: Experience as the source of
learning and development was first published in 1984 since when
his ideas have had a dramatic impact on the design and
development of lifelong learning models. Of course, Kolb's work
can be traced back to that famous dictum of Confucius around
450 BC:

"Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember.
Involve me, and I will understand."

This article aims to help you explore the development of
experiential learning from its original proposal into some of its
current refinements and applications today, using the World Wide
Web (the Internet) as a vast reference library. Many of the web
address (called hyperlinks) provided in the text look clumsy -
but if you have a web browser installed, just click on the
hyperlink and your browser should open the specific page.

A useful place to start this online exploration is David Kolb's
own website. Here you need to be careful. There is another and
different David Kolb, a professor of philosophy at Bates College,
who is a prolific author. The man we seek is the professor of
organisational behaviour at Weatherhead School of Management.
David A Kolb describes himself as a "contemporary advocate of
Experiential Learning". His own professional webpage is at you can find
information about his background, current work and most well know
publications - including references to his most well-known
subject - experiential learning and learning styles.

The concept of experiential learning explores the cyclical
pattern of all learning from Experience through Reflection and
Conceptualising to Action and on to further Experience. One of
the sites which explores the model and its practical application
can be found at This is a
very well-known model which now forms the heart of many training
and learning events. It also describes the process for recording
continuous professional development, through taking time to
capture, record and implement learning in our daily work. There
are many adaptations and uses of the model. A fascinating one is
provided on the Natural Learning website where analogy between
this model of learning and organic growth in the plant and
gardening worlds is well made:

David Kolb has extended his original work to explore the
different ways in which we all learn. He defined four styles,
based loosely around the four stages of his cycle: Activists,
Reflectors, Theorists and Pragmatists.
Perhaps the best exposition of these learning styles, together
with a range of fascinating illustrations is to be found at the
University of New South Wales, and I would strongly recommend
this page:
The work on learning styles has been used and developed by
many groups and institutions. A Polytechnic in Hong Kong adapted
the work to provide a Learning to Learn guide for its students:
Meanwhile, staff members at Mason College have done a very
creditable job of creating a directory of all the main learning
style instruments including a summary of their main benefits and

In Britain, the most accessible resource is the best-selling
Manual of Learning Styles created by Peter Honey and Alan Mumford
which includes a self-assessment instrument and advice on how to
diversify your learning.
The Manual is available online at
If you want to track down the original publications by David
Kolb, or to find other books on experiential education, have a
look through

Kolb's work has influenced the work of many in the learning,
development and education fields. The National Society for
Experiential Education is a membership association and networking
resource promoting experience-based approaches to teaching and
learning Their site has an extensive
library of further resources. The Association for Experiential
Education aims to "contribute to making a more just and
compassionate world by transforming education" The South African-based International
Consortium for Experiential Education organises its networking
activities within four 'villages', two of which are concerned
with community action and social change, and with personal
growth, self awareness and group effectiveness

A further development of these ideas has led to the notion of
groups and companies transforming themselves into Learning
Organisations. An impressive and highly active network of people
are busy exploring all aspects of this field through the email
discussion groups to be found at
TrainingZone has itself, in collaboration with the European
Consortium for the Learning Organisation, recently initiated an
open conference about learning organisation matters at

We can explore and develop our own learning in an experiential
way. The Internet offers a virtually limitless resource for
extending our own knowledge as this article seeks to demonstrate.
To explore some of these ideas further, look up any of the links
from this article, and register for further updates with

** Reproduced from LearningWire, a free digest to accompany



EDITOR: Roger Greenaway, Reviewing Skills Training
9 Drummond Place Lane STIRLING Scotland UK FK8 2JF
The Guide to Active Reviewing


COPYRIGHT: Roger Greenaway 1999 Reviewing Skills Training
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