Experiential Learning
Group Dynamics

Group Facilitation & Processing
in Experiential Education, Outdoor Education & Adventure Training

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Practical Aspects of Group Facilitation

Theoretical Aspects of Group Facilitation

Facilitation Links to Explore

What is facilitation?

To facilitate, is to help something (usually a process) move along.  The word derives from "facile" which is French for "easy".  To facilitate, then, is literally to make something easier.

Facilitate does not mean "solving a problem" or "doing it for someone". It means doing something that makes a process run a little better.

When a situation is too difficult, a facilitator is there to help.  When a student or a group are having desirable experiences, the facilitator can be less obtrusive.

Go to a more indepth section on "What is facilitation?"...

Facilitation in Action: "Reactions to Sept 11 Attacks, From an Outdoor Education Class"

This article describes the facilitation of a post-9/11 outdoor education class for university students.  This included approaching sensitive emotions and reactions, sharing, listening,  use of silence and grieving, as well as exploring the potential relevance of outdoor education to the major social challenges of our day.

Are the mountains still speaking for themselves?

Thomas James pointed out a competing tension amongst Outward Bound instructors:

  • some preferred to take participants through adventurous experiences, letting the experience speak for itself, whilst
  • other, more touchy-feely instructors, felt it was important to help participants process, analyze, and discuss their thoughts and feelings about experiences.

(named the "Outward Bound Process" model by Bacon, 1987) (go to Neill, 2002, "Are the Mountains Still Speaking for Themselves?").

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James Neill
Last updated:
05 Apr 2009