Development of concept in Bangladesh:
Development of Concept is the application of the structure and methods of experimental science to the challenge of developing future military capability.
CD&E is a forward-looking process for developing and evaluating new concepts, before committing extensive resources. CDE is a process to identify the best solution not only from a technical perspective, but also for possible solutions for challenges involving doctrine, organization, training, and material to achieve significant advances in future operations. CD&E is a way of thinking your way through the future before spending money.
Developing and identifying future-oriented concepts allows one to:
- test their validity/feasibility;
- take advantage of other studies/experiments conducted and
- save resources and avoid duplication.
In Bangladesh, participatory training has been practiced over the last 30 years. Previously, the lecture method was widely used in the training sessions. In the pre-seventies, participatory concept became the dominant trend, particularly with the publication of Paolo Freire’s ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’ in 1968, which disapproves the existence of top-down approach in development.
Soon after publication of ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’, public opinion and idea of participatory concepts started to gain importance. In particular, BRAC popularised the trend of liberating education against conventional banking approach education. Freirean philosophy thus took its course and remodelled the country’s different approaches to training. Since then, the trainers of the country have been facilitating training sessions through indigenous local techniques alongside those from abroad.
The trainers discover that concentration and effective learning in and outside the training sessions fluctuated with the fluctuation of the condition of the mind-set irrespective of level of participants. It does matter a little, whether a participant’s level is high or low and trainer has the skill of most structured methods. If the participants’ mind set is upset she or he is totally lost. People /participants may have their need in some specific session and contents, still they may find difficult to learn it, if their mind-set is not in favour of learning or mind is upset due to different and various seen and unseen, perceived or not perceived. Conscious and unconscious factors (it may not be due to the method or training environment and trainer always). Mind-set always dominates over all other factors (food, accommodation, trainers, contents, context of the contents, needs, job, commitment etc. and garden of methods, techniques, tools designed for the organized sessions,) for learning. So, trainers have to be much more flexible, adaptable and proactively/highly sensitive to the mind setup of the participants, not with the methods and techniques they pre-designed, while they should consider methods as one of the strategic elements of ensuring leanings.
From this concrete realization and idea, they started to experiment and adapt new approaches throughout the years, which they term as Mind Management Approach/De-construction Approach. This approach is a break-through to deconstruct the existing methods and it had innovated new set of techniques to set up the participant’s mind-set and to ensure active spontaneous participation by ensuring their ownership in the training process. And it ensured that the participants didn’t learn for the sake of training and trainers, they learn for them to add greater impact in future work and for the people.
In a training course on land reforms and social mobilisation in 1993, ALRD- a national NGO first took the challenge of initiating the approach and used the MMA and has started practising subsequently. Later, in June 1996, Action Aid- Bangladesh extensively used this approach in the sessions of REFLECT Trainers’ Training. Since then, it has flourished and developed through a series of effective and successful uses in different trainings. Having been trained for this approach, more than two hundred Reflect trainers and facilitators contributed to its evolution. In addition, a small team of trainers and researchers becomes very much keen to theorize and publicize this approach actively.
The Milepost of the country’s training-trend:
Non participatory or one way approach in training
|Participatory approach was initiated and used|
|The MMA introduced and started to be used|
|At the threshold of 21st century|| |
Theorisation of MMA
Like REFLECT and PRA, this approach has been a success in training and this has made it replicable in other areas of development. Not merely a hypothesis, the MMA reflects and theorises previous experiences. This approach is synthesis of all experiences – gained from structured and non-structured trainings alike. The MMA is not a substitute. It is a mixer of modern and indigenous practice of participatory approach, which has transformed Freirean concept to be more effectively and extensively used in training-learning process.
The MMA has sometimes been compared with that of Mind mapping that usually refers to as visual mapping or idea mapping that allows individual for the gathering, organization and presentation of a great deal of information, and that can be used to visualize, structure, classify and analyze complex ideas and concepts. The mind management approach makes it more powerful at a meeting than that of simple note-taking. A project manager can use the approach of mind management for determination of priorities, which specific resources are needed for both individual task, and the overall project. Ideas can be assigned a task status, and the percentage completed can also be displayed.
In 1993 ALRD introduced this approach in training without any name. Later 1996 Action Aid-Bangladesh introduced a new model of adult learning named REFLECT and it organised ToT (Training of Trainer) in Bhola. From late 1997 a group of individual developed a 12-page draft having talked with different practitioners and researchers including Sirajud Dahar. After a few years of operation of the MMA training was organised in the CODEC Training centre, Chittagong for the first time (July 2000). The participants raised their feelings that the draft that was prepared the three-member Team needs to be published. In September 2000 a research was conducted on the Experience of Mind Management Approach under Action Aid. The research brought positive response from practitioners of the MMA. Gradually the MMA became more familiar and many a practitioners started using MMA in the name of D-Approach (De-construction approach). Later the 14-page concept paper on the approach was prepared for the International Training Resource Book of CIRAC (Circle for International REFLECT-Action and Communication). This initiative inspired dialogue although there some debate and criticism on it home and abroad.
Core philosophy and principles
- Each participant has more or less strengths, weaknesses and potentiality. The MMA facilitators explore those hidden talents to increase the learning process.
- MMA focuses on self-motivated participation, NOT only methods
- The MMA facilitators are focused on encouraging interaction of the participants rather than transferring their own knowledge on the subject.
- Participants are involved in organisation, facilitation and evaluation of learning progress
- MMA ensures equal status of trainer, facilitators to all participants
Schools of thought on theory of learning
Terminologies like learning, teaching and education come from the same root. Learning is a process to ensure a positive change in human knowledge, skills and attitudes. Educationists, philosophers and intellectuals have theorized the way that a person learns and interacts. Their views and thoughts can be divided into two basic schools of thought: Humanistic and Behavioural. These two schools of thought are discussed below:
Behavioural schools of thought:
B.F.Skinner (1904-1990) mainly theorized this, though many behaviourists along with Edward Thorndike (1874-1949), Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) and John Watson (1878-1958) analysed and used it to explain certain aspects of human behaviour. Skinner is the most contemporary who believed that a person learns in the way that an animal learns. i.e. reward and punishment. But, a human’s awareness is far sharper than an animal’s and therefore the degree of punishment and reward should be higher for people.
According to this theory, learning is the process of change and this change reflects in behaviour – for which a change in mind and thinking is needed. In order for this change to take place in the psyche of a person it needs reward and punishment. Pavlov demonstrated this by using a dog for his experiments. During the experiment, whenever a bell was rung, the dog was given food. Gradually the dog became conditioned and started to salivate just at the sight of the bell even when there was no sound. Thus the dog was conditioned. In a later experiment the bell was sounded from two rooms -one room with the food and the other room without any food. Eventually, it was observed that the dog was no longer going to the room without food in it, despite the sound of the bell. This was because the dog had learned that it would not get any food there.
Likewise, Skinner did a similar experiment with a rat. A hungry rat was released in front of two boxes. In one box there were few food-pills and the other box was electrified. It was observed the rat was not approaching the electrified box, rather when it felt hunger; it instantly went to the box with food-pills. Skinner has termed the food-pills as reward and the electric shock as punishment. This way the rat learnt which box to go to. The food pills worked as a stimulus. Pavlov too termed it as stimuli and described this reward as positive stimuli and the punishment as negative stimuli. According to the behaviourists, human beings can learn if such reward and punishment method is properly followed.
In a country like ours, educational and professional institutes have grown up with this theory that a good student or employee will get reward while a poor performance in examination or in profession are punished.
In the MMA, facilitators emphasise the mind as the main catalyst of learning and active participation. Therefore in training, all current norms and practices, techniques and methods, ownership, egos and everything are deconstructed according to the demand of participants. This means that the trainees, not the training are of paramount importance to MMA practitioners. This approach is participant centered, flexible and uses indigenous experiences. Unlike the behaviourists, the MMA practitioners believe that human being is not merely animals, but they have the analytical power to rationalize things make decisions.
Humanistic Schools of thought:
This school of thought is more recent and well recognized. The behaviourists consider a human being as an animal. But the humanists think that human beings are the best of all creatures and so they should be treated above an animal. To teach a being, a feeling of self-actualization must be planted in her/his mind that ‘s/he is a human being, s/he must learn many things and s/he must be better than anyone.’
Carl Rogers (1902-1987) the main architect of this school of thought says that motivation is the most important thing for learning. The pre-conditions for a good motivation are:
1. Environment: A learning environment should be created according to the needs of participants. Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) emphasized on survival oriented needs like hunger and thrust. When these are fulfilled, the others become less powerful needs. According to him, in an ideal learning environment, the participants should have some needs to be fulfilled.
2. Freedom: The MMA practitioners believe in freedom and liberty of persons and therefore they do not try to control participants’ free flow of thoughts or creativity. They also disapprove of the examination system in training.
3. Love: Participants will treat their trainers as good friends not as teachers. These friendly feelings will enable them to interact with trainers easily. The humanists think that love can return love. If a trainer loves her/his participants they can too love her/him.
4. Empathy: Empathy is just the opposite of sympathy. An MMA trainer must be empathetic to the needs of participants. Well before a participant expresses her/his needs, an MMA trainer must sense it. The trainer should realize this and be able to read the face of participants.
5. Goal Congruence: The demand and the goal of participants and trainers must be the same. Only then will effective learning be ensured. That is why a training curriculum should be entirely prepared on the basis of participants’ needs. Rogers too emphasized this.
For learning, the humanists therefore give highest importance on these five pre-conditions and believe that the theory of reward and punishment is not conducive to effective learning.
There is a congruence of humanistic thoughts environment, freedom, love, and empathy and goal congruence with the learning concept of the MMA. This is called a strategy in the MMA. Although In the implementation of strategy of humanistic school of thought, issues like local problems, class, social reality, regional culture and practices, rituals are not considered with an in-depth analysis and do not consider the reality as such. So, the opponents of Humanistic consider it as imaginary and impractical. But in the MMA, it gives emphasis on those issues of practical reality and in-depth analysis. It also incorporated indigenous formats. Sometimes, a positive mental persuasion is created on the mind of participants with love and flexibility which is called challenging activities for changing human attitudes (ChACHA).
In a training environment however, the humanist thought can be very effective. Participants are mostly adult and equally experienced persons; therefore optimum learning can be ensured through friendly and informal interaction among participants. The MMA builds up the kind of environment where this is possible.
The Gestalt theory is another remarkable learning theory. Gestalt is a German word, which means form, structure or configuration and insight, as Woodworth says a problem amounts to a gap in the present situation, insight amounts to perceiving the gap, and insightful behaviour closes the gap. According to the Gestaltists, the learning process is not mechanized.
The conventional approach to learning is often mechanised and it may hamper people’s learning. Trainers have their own preconceived ideas about training content, method and time and this does not always suit the participant’s needs. The MMA approach tries to encourage the participants to be insightful, bridging the gap between their surroundings and their learning needs and creating an atmosphere conducive to learning.
The MMA practitioners prioritize the needs of participants and prepare the training curriculum from these. To ensure optimum level of training, they change and readjust contents, method and time according to the needs of participants. This creates a learning-friendly environment.
The mind of a participant gets special attention to free their learning process from being mechanized. With the help of different techniques and tools, a trainer makes the whole learning process informal. Learning is not confined to the training room, but can also happen outside the training room. As a result learning becomes need based and contributes to creating an effective learning environment.
According to the Gestalt point of view, behaviour represents more than the sum of its parts’ and there must be insight about the whole situation during the learning process. Here an insight does not mean the mere reaction of some scattered stimuli as all these stimuli are the part of a whole ‘both includes and goes beyond the sum of smaller, independent events. It deals with essential characteristics of actual experience, such as value, meaning and form.
Trainers of the MMA motivate each other to look into deep into the root of content with informal behaviour. Cohler says that to develop an insight, it needs two types of mental process: i.e. Abstraction and Generalization.
The features of learning process according to the Gestaltists are sequential as follows:
A participant perceives the whole situation of learning problem.
S/he reacts equally to the whole problem.
S/he makes an analogy between different parts of a problem and overrides those impediments.
Since participants learn from their insights – this learning seems to be sustainable learning. It is important that participants have a clear idea about learning objectives so that learning process can run smoothly by touching a participants’ mind. Without awareness in her/his mind learning cannot be accomplished. For effective learning, the mind should be well prepared before the learning process can start. The Gestaltist has repeatedly said that in any learning situation, participants should react on the whole. In the MMA, a participant interacts and reacts with her/his entirety, fullest participation of active body and mind.