Arena

wpid-img_1445 by eric graczyk bw.jpg

Let's stop building auditoriums. They duplicate exactly the dynamics of the traditional classroom, but at a larger scale and at extravagant expense. Those few people on the stage are active and central to the proceedings, and those people in the audience (usually 99% of those present) are passive and anonymous. Communication is one-way, as is any feeling of connection. Worse, the room stands empty most of the time.

Instead, let's consider arenas. If scaled to 50-60 occupants, they don't require sound systems, lighting systems, mechanical systems, operable partitions, and acoustic accoutrements quite like an auditorium. Arenas connect people instead of separating them, with everyone in attendance visible to each other. Unlike auditoriums, they facilitate conversation and collaboration.

Greg Lewis in "Teaching and Learning in Circle" (1) celebrates the shared opportunity and responsibility of meeting in a circle. According to Lewis, circles encourage storytelling and those stories build connections within the circle, setting up a self-reinforcing loop. It's the beginning of building what David Fleming calls a tribe: 

"Space, Desire, Action...Magic happens when people,...temporarily or for the long haul, become tribal by experiencing all three qualities". (2)

None of this is possible with an auditorium.

1. Lewis, Greg, "Teaching and Learning in Circle", Conflict Management in Higher Learning Report, Volume 3, Number 2, February 2003
2. Fleming, David, Tribal Alchemy (2016) p13

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