For no light matter is at stake; the question concerns the very manner in which human life is to be lived.
"My techniques are concerned with reading signals from people, tiny unconscious clues that betray their thoughts"
Derren Brown Mind Control
Co-creating meaning since 2001
The prefixing of an older term indicates that an older concept has undergone a significant transformation. Philosophy working from the perspectives of neuroscience is described as neurophilosophy, marketing and economics incorporating such insights as neuromarketing and neuroeconomics - in each case a new term is needed to decribe a new approach, new perspectives and a fundamentally different way of understanding the field. These are not affectations or "neurobabble", and in each case the change marks a radical shift in thinking.
What is neurofacilitation?
Facilitated interactions are managed to make things happen. The ability to do this evolved with us as social animals and is built in to what we are - from the moment we are born we are primed to influence and manipulate, and some of us become much better at it than others.
So techniques of manipulating other minds are as old as our species. But until recently the explicit development and exploitation of these techniques was frequently the preserve of stage magicians, conjurors, mind-readers, tricksters and propagandists.
Neurofacilitation uses insights from neuroscience about how our brains work and change during interactions. New understanding allows facilitators, trainers, coaches, teachers and other professionals in the business of 'changing brains' to more appropriately apply, modify and develop the techniques and methods they already use.
Neuroscience allows facilitation to move from empiricism - experience leading us to adopt things that seem to work and drop things that don't - to a science; it now becomes possible to use scientific understanding to design facilitated interaction and change - facilitation is an old art, neurofacilitation is a new science.
"This programme fuses magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship. I achieve all the results you'll see here through a varied mixture of those techniques"
Derren Brown - Trick of the Mind
Making new maps for new landscapes
"Meaning is wider in scope and more precious in value than truth, and philosophy is occupied with meaning rather than truth"
"Who owns the language controls the conversation"
...a true artist is obsessed with the nature of his material,
And must make evident the process of creation in preference
to the predictable appearance of the finished product.
John Fuller, "The Cook's Lesson"
"Advertisers are not thinking radically enough - they look for technology to lead instead of trying the neuroscience approach and thinking about what parts of the brain haven't been activated before. These new experiences bring new capabilities to the brain."
In all things what is most difficult to achieve is appropriate simplicity
Meaning is a social construct - and the principal catalyst for the emergence of socially constructed meaning is through the action of a facilitator.
Appropriate facilitation applies what neuroscience reveals about how we "make up our minds" - how we make decisions and choices, and how we change the way we think and behave.
Appropriate facilitation is primarily an emotional interaction, only secondarily is it intellectual.
View a flow diagram illustrating the role of emotion in facilitation:
Congruence between simultaneous messages
Human interpersonal communication has seven basic elements:
- linguistic - words, word order and structure
- facial expression
- non-verbal vocalization and tone of voice
- other non-verbal behaviours, e.g. posture, dress
- mimesis and mirroring
All may be used to varying degrees in conversation, and all designed and facilitated learning conversations address them.
This is especially important with respect to ensuring congruence between elements within a message.
Congruence of messages assumes great importance with respect to the communication of emotions, feelings and attitudes. This includes a speaker's attitudes to their listener, to themselves, to their environment and to what they are saying - especially belief in, or sense of conviction for, what they are saying.
If gestures, facial expressions or tones are not congruent with words, this will be perceived and create uncertainty and tension within listeners. If words are not congruent with tone of voice and non-verbal behaviour, listeners tend to believe the message conveyed by tone and non-verbal behaviour rather than the words spoken.
Developing Facilitation Skills - Designing a Learning Experience
Learning and developmental experiences are most effective when they follow patterns which evolution provided for learning, not those created to meet the organizational needs of schools and universities.
The pattern below is an interactive one between a learner and a stimulus provided by a Mediating Agent (MA).
The MA may be a human or an artificial agent. Agents may be either active, such as a teacher or computer, or passive, such as a book or DVD.
The process is:
1. Initiation via act of attention within the Learner.
2. Provision via Mediating Agent (MA) of a presented stimulus. This is an Emotionally Competent Stimulus, or ECS.
3. Learner engagement secured as emotional response to the ECS.
4. Emergence of somatic response or “feeling” in Learner.
5. Initiation of explicit reasoned and rational thinking in Learner.
6. Articulation of these processes and thoughts and their outcomes.
7. Linking of emergent products with existing memories and frameworks of understanding.
8. Development of thinking trains and creation of new linkages through recall, analysis, further articulation and dialogue.
9.Creation of narratives that secure new learning within existing frameworks, understandings and memories.
10. Challenge to and consolidation of narratives, especially through re-articulation and “explanation”.
11. Employment of new behaviours and growth of experience, consolidation of new neural pathways and application of new learning to novel analyses and circumstances.
The process should form the spine of a designed learning experience in which sub-processes may be iterative.
This is an active and energy consuming process - facilitated conversations use a lot of brain and use it intensively.
Consequently timings, pace, breaks and duration are critical elements of design, along with sensitivity and flexibility to be able to change these appropriately.