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The Future of the Facilitator in Japan

Have the courage to make use of your own mind


(Immanuel Kant: An Answer to the question What is Enlightenment)

Forum
Ueno Gakuen University Ishibashi Memorial Concert Hall
27.08.2012 (Speech Transcript)

Speaker: Michael Spencer Research Fellow Ueno Gakuen University Music & Culture Research Centre

2 4 6 9 11

Introduction Enlightenment, Edo, Confucius, Buddha and Socrates Territory Facilitator Skiills Summing Up

Sponsors: Ministry of Culture (Japan), British Council, MESENA. Association of Japanese Symphony Orchestras

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Introduction Before I start with my presentation, I would like you to take 20 seconds to write down what the term facilitator means to you. If it means nothing at all, thats fine. Put your paper to one side and forget about it for the moment, we will be coming back to this later today . The idea for this Forum came about largely because of a documentary that was made earlier this year by NHK. It was part of the series and if you havent seen it already I think its still online. It focused on a visit by the Japanese pianist Ikuyo Nakamichi to a project taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, where she was to take part in a series of community-based workshops in order to explore the role of a facilitator. I think she was rather brave. What the documentary didnt tell you was that although we were focussing on Beethovens 5th symphony, this workshop series was part of a much bigger project which I am currently overseeing for the British Society for Immunology, and which involves scientists and artists of all types. The focus is to explore the territory between the Arts and the Sciences and see what one can learn from the other. In the process we intend to raise the profile of immunology. For the Glasgow workshops we used music, and in particular Beethovens 5th Symphony, to explore some of the parallels between viral processes and musical creation, and throughout the experience learn more about both. Here is a comment that was made by one of the parents of the children participating. [SLIDE] we wanted to get in touch and let you know what an inspiring event it was, and what a profound effect it had on our children. I have to say we were quite blown away by just how much the kids (all of them) managed to achieve in such a short space of time. The whole experience has proved a very novel way for them to learn about a complex area of scientific research. Already we see that this type of work can open up many different possibilities and that perhaps its a much bigger and more involved subject than we first thought. It is also a question with which any good facilitator has to wrestle. What are the parameters? Are there any parameters? We are here today to focus largely on facilitation in the context of music education, but in reality I feel we are talking about a much bigger scenario with a potential for learning that extends beyond the scope of music Crucially, however, this type of extended learning depends on how you view music and the Arts. We all understand music as a Skill, such as the ability to play the violin, or as a Service, such as listening to a concert or having background music playing in a
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restaurant. It is seldom the case however that we look at music, or the Arts, as a Process and it is here that we open up the real potential for learning. Over the years I have been very fortunate to work in an extremely varied range of contexts in many different countries, and not only with school children but business people, people with disability, socially disadvantaged groups and many others. Some of my work has been on the large scale like the educational assets we created for the Oscar winning film of Peter and the Wolf, or the software package about opera that went into 5000 schools in the UK. Some, however, have been on a much more intimate level such as the work in which I was involved with terminally ill children at Great Ormond Street Hospital, or at the Royal School for Deaf Children. So my observations today are based on a great deal of practical experience, although I also take a great interest in framing this within the context of current methodologies and new research studies. I have worked in Japan as an education practitioner (facilitator) and consultant for about 14 years and when I first arrived this sort of methodology was a relatively new concept. Since then home grown examples have begun to emerge, and open discussions and seminars stimulate further interest. In fact I have taken part in a great number of them. Japanese practitioners are now in evidence and some organisations are actively engaged in promoting this sort of work. One particular example of this is the Japan Phil whose education programme using this type of methodology stretches back to the time I first started working here. There have also been several manuals produced on the subject of workshops and I recently acquired copies of the Workshop and Learning Serieis.( . ) So its fair to say that although Arts education practice is not widespread, this is no longer a new subject. The purpose of this forum therefore is not to go over old ground, but to raise the level and quality of thinking on this topic. And to stimulate this I am going to ask one important and perhaps controversial question. If this methodology has taken root so quickly and effectively elsewhere in the world, why has it taken so much longer in Japan? This sort of work doesnt happen by magic. It doesnt appear from nowhere, and it needs someone to instigate and implement it. Workshops dont exist on their own. The principal driver is the person at the centre of the initiative; the facilitator. And I think that by looking at this role closer we might begin to find some of the answers to the question about slow uptake. And I feel that we cant really understand the role of the facilitator without looking at the cultural and philosophical backgrounds from which it arose, and contrast this with the context in Japan.

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Enlightenment, Edo, Confucius, Buddha and Socrates This type of Arts education practice has a background largely in the work that took place in theatrical companies in the UK perhaps 25 to 30 years ago, after which it spread rapidly to the other Arts. In reality, however, the philosophy behind these methodologies has much deeper roots which can be traced back to the 18th century and the onset of the period in Western History known as the Enlightenment; a cultural movement that promoted science and intellectual interchange, and opposed superstition, intolerance and abuses by church and state. [SLIDE]

Have the courage to make use of your own mind


(Immanuel Kant: An Answer to the question What is Enlightenment)

The quotation I have taken as a subtext to this presentation is by Immanuel Kant. One of the Wests most influential philosophers, and it comes from his essay written in 1748 about the Enlightenment. In order to understand the relevance of this quotation to Arts education I feel it would be helpful to know a little more about its historical context. Prior to the Enlightenment, from approximately 1650 onwards faith, tradition, authority, and their role in society were under attack. The divine right of kings was challenged, as was the position of the Church. In England we had the Civil War, Charles 1 was executed for high treason, and a constitutional monarchy answerable to Parliament was formed. Just over one hundred years later in 1781, with the Enlightenment in full flow, the French Revolution took hold. Liberty and the freedom of the common man was on everyones lips, and in1791 Thomas Paine published his essay The Rights of Man which became an ignition point for the American Revolution. Coffee houses, the places for discussion and debate for the man in the street as much as for intellectuals, flourished and were frequented by artists from Haydn to Beethoven, John Dryden to Schiller. Ideas proliferated, as did books, broadsheets, and the Arts, which became no longer the sole province of aristocratic patrons. Beaumarchais wrote the novel the Marriage of Figaro, a scandalous story at the time about the reversal of roles between servant and master. It was later used by Mozart for his opera of the same name, Voltaire wrote the philosophical satire Candide, banned because of its thinly veiled mix of religious blasphemy, political sedition and intellectual hostility. Beethoven also was highly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment and he understood that independence of thought was the greatest gift one can have on earth (Daniel Barenboim)

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This emphasis on the individual and the willingness to challenge is quite different from the Japanese context in which Confucian doctrine promotes filial piety and deference to those who are considered of higher standing. The status quo is seldom challenged openly and equilibrium is maintained through a process of group consensus. The result of the Enlightenment, however, was a generative culture that valued invention, creativity and the constant development of new approaches. In Japan, traditionally, the cultural imperative values more the attainment of higher levels of skill and perfection through replication. This is not a criticism. Its just how it is, and why its so interesting working between cultures. A few years ago this difference was brought home to me when I worked on an education project for high school students in the UK about Kabuki. We were to learn about Kabuki by recreating the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet in Kabuki fashion. We could do this with Shakespearean drama where its intrinsic flexibility allows for new interpretations. It would however have been much harder to do this in the other direction and reinterpret Chikamatsu with its set theatrical rituals into a.Shakespearean formatwhatever that might be! The Kabuki actor with whom I was working explained the difference by giving me the example of a butterfly flying across the stage as part of a play. In Western theatre it would be rich and possibly ambiguous in its symbolic meaning; the freedom of the spirit, the loss of innocence etc. In Kabuki one would think of how perfectly poised and expertly the butterfly was being made to fly. I have noticed this contrast also when one compares different National Curricula. For example in Scotland the curriculum for music is specifically written to encourage personal creativity and understanding in addition to the acquisition of skills. In the Japanese curriculum, although appreciation and creativity is mentioned, in reality it is the development of instrumental or vocal skills that is considered more important. You can perhaps begin to see that there may be some assumptions being made about the ease by which a particular discipline can be transferred directly from one context to another. There was an interesting example of this with the Japanese National Football team about 10 years ago. Up until that point the team had tried to play without actually making physical contact with their opponents, something at odds with Japanese culture. It took Phillippe Troussier to teach them that physical contact is integral and essential for creating world-class players.

I want also to mention another important cultural contrast which concerns the philosophical influences on the creation of Art. All Western-based Art forms have a Socratic underpinning. Originating with the Ancient Greeks some 2.5 thousand years ago, Socratic method, or discourse, is a form of inquiry and debate between two individuals that is used to stimulate critical thinking and illuminate ideas. In Japan, the traditional approach to creating Art is more influenced by Buddhistic tradition where harmony and balance is prized.

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In Western cultures this Socratic form of bipartisan discourse is integral to the creative process and is often internalized as part of an artists practice, with the artist taking both roles. It can also be manifest within the fabric of the artwork itself. Take for example Sonata Form, also known as First Movement form; the musical structure ubiquitous throughout the Classical repertoire in symphonies, sonatas, quartets etc. Almost invariably it introduces a First Subject, the proposal or thesis, and a contrasting Second Subject, the counter argument. They both appear in the Exposition and provide the material for later discussion in the Development section. [Beethovens 5th Symphony, First Movement example]. The discourse moves back and forth using both the first and second subjects through a range of different modifications during the second section, the Development, after which resolution is reached in the final section, the Recapitulation. Its the same principal used during cross-examination in the Law courts and also a core attribute of good workshop practice. However, it has been my experience that this form of forensic investigation and dialogue is not necessarily fully appreciated or practiced within the workshop context, and this is something I have experienced not only in Japan. I find it interesting, and its a point about which I am open to challenge, but so far I have not been able to find a direct Japanese equivalent of the word discourse that also contains the implication of Socratic process. If these Western art forms are, therefore, influenced strongly by the philosophies of the Enlightenment and the Socratic Method, it should come as no surprise that they are also integral to the role of the facilitator and the vehicle by which he plies his skills, the workshop. It is my belief that the introduction of one methodology which is so deeply rooted into its own cultural heritage directly into a different and equally complex cultural context without acknowledging these philosophical differences is a major reason why this form of educational practice has not become more widespread in Japan. There has to be an accommodation in thinking which works both ways, a dance between cultures as it were. And it is the facilitator who has to accept the role of choreographer.

Territory There is a tendency when we talk of education and outreach programmes to think primarily of work with school students. In reality these methodologies can be used across a range of different territories. For example, within a 6 week period last year I worked with orphans from Tohoku, electrical engineers at Fuji Denki, scientists for BASF in Shanghai, family groups visiting the Marcel Duchamp exhibition at Mori Bijutsukan, and artists and immunologists in Glasgow. The other day I was talking with Martyn Brabbins, the new chief conductor at the Nagoya Philharmonic Orchestra, and he told me about some of the work in which he had been involved in an English prison. So the range is immense and although there is a common methodology, depending upon the context, the style of delivery has to be nuanced accordingly. For example, adults
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demand more explanation and are less trusting, whereas children are far more open and accepting of new ideas. Therefore in some ways the adults need more supporting. I will, however, reserve most of my observations today to work with school age children. Take a moment to think about how different the territory within which an education system sits today is from the one we experienced as students. What are the similarities and what are the differences? Out of interest, I want to ask you to do something but first close your eyes. Raise your left hand if you have a Facebook Account and your right hand if you have a Mixi account. Both if you have both! And no peeping. Now open your eyes and look around. Close your eyes again. Raise your hand if you use Wikipedia more than 5 times a week. Have another look. If I were carrying out this same test with a group of 14 year olds the result would be quite different. The fact is that communications technology has radically changed the respective landscapes of work and education. The world is now radically different from the one in which we grew up, and the change is ongoing and increasing exponentially. The work environment that our young people will be entering will be different again in 3 or 4 years time, and it will require people who can work more efficiently, particularly across cultures, more flexibly, more creatively, and make better, more informed choices. Here, are two short extracts from reports about the challenges that face global businesses today [SLIDE]

Amongst graduates there is an increasing deficit of those who can communicate well, who can work effectively in teams, and who can think creatively
McKinsey Quarterly - The War for Talent. 1997 Thirteen years later the story is much the same

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[SLIDE]

The biggest challenge CEOs face is finding people who are sufficiently creative
Capitalising on Complexity. 2010. IBM Global Survey of 3000 CEOs

Therefore we have to ask, are our respective education systems preparing our young people for this situation adequately? Are they empowering and flexible enough to equip them with the skills that will be needed to fit the future requirements of the global market place? Because of the speed of change and the availability of information, should we also be preparing them to take control of their own learning pathways? There are many important figures that are influencing the global revolution in education such as Sir Ken Robinson and Professor Sugata Mitra who believe this is the case. Professor Mitra, with whom I will be working later this year, has pioneered a methodology known as Minimally Invasive Learning that allows children in rural Indian communities Internet access via computers, with data in English, but without any instruction whatsoever. Driven by their own curiosity they have equalled and in some cases surpassed the standard assessment tests, and this Hole in the Wall methodology, so called because the computers are installed like bank teller machines in walls, is now widespread across India, Africa and Asia. And perhaps more importantly for this Forum, do the Arts have a role to play in this education revolution. There are those that believe they do. [SLIDE]

Arts techniques can be powerful ways of unlocking creative capacities and of engaging the whole person
Sir Ken Robinson. Senior Advisor to the President of the J. Paul Getty Centre

And there is now proof of their efficacy. In 2010 the findings from a 12 year research project in the US into the inclusion of the Arts within the curriculum which involved 12,000 students showed

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[SLIDE]

higher levels of attainment and achievement significant academic and social benefits increase in motivation, confidence advantages increased over time low income groups in particular benefited benefits for English language learners mathematics - long term benefits

Doing Well and Doing Good by Doing Art. James S. Catterall. 2010

I believe therefore that if we are able to draw on the processes that underpin the Arts rather than treating them solely as some form of elaborate decoration, we have the opportunity to bring into play a powerful educative tool that will help in the creation of an appropriately prepared population that is responsive to future challenges. And this is where the role of the facilitator fits in. Facilitator Skills So far I have spoken about the philosophy behind the methodologies used by facilitators and the bigger, changing picture within which they might be used. Before I talk further about the skills needed by a facilitator, however, I would like to say a few words about the workshop. I have been running workshops in Japan for 14 years and still I am asked, Mike-san, what is a workshop? In fairness I think that as facilitators we have to accept responsibility for not having explained the concept adequately. But I also think that there is undue focus placed upon workshop content and method of delivery rather than the innate qualities needed in a facilitator. I often use the metaphor of a workshop being like an all terrain vehicle that is full of the latest navigation gadgets and mechanical innovations, but because the driver has only driven to get to the shops, you have no real knowledge of its full potential. [SLIDE]

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You need a driver who has the authentic skill and the desire to take the vehicle off the road and along unconventional pathways. [SLIDE]

So, what are the primary skills we need in a facilitator, assuming that they are already accomplished in one or more of the artistic disciplines. If one were to sum up the role of a facilitator in one phrase I would suggest that a possible definition would be that Facilitators create effective environments for maximizing the potential for learning. And to do this requires the development of an appropriate attitude of mind rather than just a repertoire of exercises. It needs a different approach from the conventional view of teaching where generally knowledge passes from the knowledge holder to the recipient. In a workshop situation the facilitator must be able to give sufficient information to ignite curiosity and discussion amongst the participants so that they become self-administering groups. From then on the requirement is to maintain the momentum by encouragement and strategically placed challenges which continually fuel curiosity. The author Arthur C. Clarke said that if children have interest education happens. This is why its important that participants are facilitated to take ownership of a workshop, becoming almost co-designers. The ability to evaluate effectively and stimulate peer review is also important for consolidating learning and this relies on developing listening and questioning skills that stimulate generative answers which in turn lead to more questions. Its important to emphasize that the goal is not to look for right answers but better solutions, and these may change according to context. You can perhaps see why the Socratic Method I mentioned earlier is so important. It also allows the space for individuals to have the courage to make use of their own minds and express their own thoughts, but in a way that allows the group as a whole to benefit. This learning environment is not about the nail which stands out should be hammered down, but the nail which stands out should be encouraged and utilized to create a better structure for all involved. More recently I have seen the term collaborative innovation to describe this process. I could talk about a great many other abilities required in a facilitator; the application of educational methodologies, devising and structuring projects, running workshops, evaluation techniques, working with sponsors, working in different contexts etc., however,
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that would be more the province of a training course. Unless a facilitator first develops their own personal mindset of inquiry and reflection and the desire to explore, these other skills become simply techniques that are applied without real understanding.

Summing up I feel that becoming a facilitator is as much about developing ones own curiosity and learning strategies, as it is the participants. And thinking differently requries a degree of courage. As Nicolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political theory, said 500 years ago in his instruction manual for would be politicians, The Prince "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." One of the reasons we are here today is to encourage personal reflection. But personal reflection is not of any use if it stays personal. So later on we are going to give you the opportunity to feed into the process and we will be holding some breakout sessions for which we have set some challenges in the form of a number of questions. And for this I would encourage you to remember the subtext I choose for my speech [SLIDE]

Have the courage to make use of your own mind


(Immanuel Kant: An Answer to the question What is Enlightenment)

MJS 27 August 2012. Ueno Gakuen

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