John, one of our fellow FUN Followers, wrote into me asking about my experience with groups (clients) interested in exploring "generational issues/awareness." I thought this would be and interesting conversation to share and see if others might have something to contribute. Here's John's initial inquiry:
John: I was wondering if you have come across/created any activities for groups that were interested in exploring generational issues/awareness?
After some consideration, here's what I shared with John:
Chris: You pose an interesting question. I don't know any activities specific to "generational issues/awareness" and have yet to create/develop anything specific myself.
John continues the thread:
John: Thanks for your reply. I am surprised that there are not many/any generational activities out there!
Instead of replying to John's last email, I wanted to save my thoughts for this blog post.
It just so happens that (based on a recent recommendation from Michael Cardus) I started reading the book, Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help (2009) by Edgar Schein. So far it's been an engaging read since I can correlate a lot of the teambuilding I do directly to helping behaviors. Here are a few points from the first two sections of the book that, I believe, can relate to our generational issues/awareness discussion:
The details of social economics continues, but stopping here coincides with our discussion. This concept (or social theory) struck a cord with me in relation to John's generational issues/awareness thinking. Let's consider a group of multi-generational participants (e.g., co-workers). If one generation thinks ethnocentrically and the other thinks ethnorelatively the communication between the generations may not mesh with the social economics expectations of each generation thus causing friction.
I'm sure it's also possible for two different generations within a group to be the same types of thinkers. What if they both had an ethnocentric point of view - each thought their way was the best way. How do you work with that situation? What if both generations were ethnorelative thinkers? Maybe there's no problems? The question arises then, how do we know what thinkers we're working with? (Also, don't discount the fact that there could be more than two different "generations" within one working group, as John noted, in relation to the "messy part" about dating generations.)
You can see we could really keep going down the rabbit hole here. But let's take a team breadth. There are other great conversations just like this one that circle around the adventure education field. They give some of us cause for reflection (and program development possibilities). However, my mindset tends to settle back into the "every day" team building facilitators out there. How can this conversation help them?
In my (humble) opinion, it doesn't help them at all until they are ready to add to the conversation.. Which means they have some experience with the issue(s) in the conversation and believe they can use the information to help them in the future. In John's case, he was ready. He brought up the questions. He wants to know what's out there.
If you want to keep going down the rabbit hole with John and me, leave a comment for us below. Do you run into situations involving generational issues/awareness? How do you approach these issues? What activities do you lead in order to flush out these issues? We're ready to keep it going.
What can you take from this if you're more interested in climbing out of the hole for now? When working with groups that you know include multiple generations, continue planning educative experiences (programs) that allow the groups to recognize and explore behaviors (things they can see and hear) that help them move towards their goals, and recognize and explore those behaviors that keep them from their goals. Then, find out which behaviors they want to keep using and which behaviors they want to change or stop using? Personally, I do not make it about generational issues (even though some may identify them as such), it's about what help's them achieve their desired outcomes.
All the best,
Chris Cavert, Ed.D. (and John)
This blog is a space for hands-on programable fun - energetic activities and ideas that can be used as a means to bring people together; activities and ideas we as educators can add to our social development curriculums.
Dr. Chris Cavert is an internationally known author, speaker, and trainer in the area of adventure-based activity programming and its relation to community and pro-social behavior development.