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General Introduction into the Background, Rationale & Design of the three Multiplication Course

This introductory paper is supposed to give you an overview and orientation into the Background, Rationale and Design of the three Multiplication Course Modules that have been carried out in the New Paths to InclUsion Network.

The Oxford Dictionary defines Multiplication:as the act or process of multiplying or the state of being multiplied, with the addendum that theMultiplication of cells leads to rapid growth of the organism.

But what should be multiplied, and what`s this talk about cells

On our journey we have come across several times around the story of the Imago cells, which play a pivotal role in the caterpillars transformation to become a butterfly – a metaphor that has been used extensively to describe the intended consequences of person-centred planning.

When the caterpillar pupates himself, there are already Imago-cells appearing in his body - which are a vision or a seed of the future. Whereas the first generations of isolated imago cells are attacked by the immune system of the caterpillar,they at some point start coming together and to create clusters and NetworksThen comes the moment, when these Networks and Imago-cells understand: we are no longer a caterpillar, we are already something else! 

The New Paths to InclUsion Network has also tried to set out on a transformative journey of asking deep questions, creating connections and trying to find new answers to our guiding questions 

‘How can we make sure that support services respond to the individual needs of persons with disabilities and help them live included in the community? What kind of personal and organisational learning is necessary to facilitate this process?’

In our search for new answers we have used Theory-U as a guide for our learning. Theory U proposes that the quality of the results that we create in any kind of social system is a function of the quality of awareness that the participants in the system operate from. It represents both a theory to talk about such deeper levels of experience but also a social technology / methodology to shift the inner place from which we work to support us in bringing forth desired changes.

 

It is called U – process because of its shape and associated three movements, which have led our activities in the project. 

  • Going down the U: “Observe, observe, observe” exposing ourselves to new learning experiences and searching for new ways of understanding (Sensing),

  • At the bottom of the U: “Retreat and reflect, allow the inner knowing to emerge”. Going to places of stillness where knowing can surface. Reflecting and sharing on what you have learned from a deep place of listening.Asking, ”What wants to emerge here?” and „how can we become part of the story of the future rather than holding on to the story of the past?(Presencing).

  • Going Up the U: Act in an instant.” Explore the future by doing. Acting quickly on this learning through trying out various new Prototype ideas to actualize the emerging future and move it into the centre of our practice (Realizing).

 

The Discovery activities in the New Paths to InclUsion project had been structured along three fields of learning framed as important keys we need to address if we were to move towards new paths to Inclusion. 

Each key had been framed around one core question that guided the learning and sensing in the process preceding the Multiplication Course by applying different strategies inspired by the U-process Toolbox which have been adapted to fit our purpose (described in detail in the Multiplication Course Descriptions and the Toolbox section). 

Thus it is important to be aware that the Multiplication course does not represent a stand-alone format to be implemented but a purposefully created space to multiply previous learning experiencesOur three fields of learning had been:

  • Developing person-centred organisationsWhat do organisations need for a sustainable implementation of person-centred approaches that leads to transformative change?

  • Fostering community inclusion and developmentHow can service-providers become more connected and responsive to the community and thus open new possibilities for people with disabilities to become active and contributing citizens?

  • Providing inclusive training and learning for all: How can we improve vocational training courses to effectively include diverse groups of learners, including persons with intellectual disabilities, for the benefit of all?

Rationale and Design Elements of the Multiplication Course 

The U – Theory process does not represent a linear pathway to be followed and applied in a tick box manner. It can rather be understood as a fractal process. Again following the Oxford Dictionary a fractal is an object whose parts, at infinitely many levels of magnification, appear geometrically similar to the whole. This means that each phase in the U contains within it a smaller U so that the change-maker has to repeat the movements of the U multiple times. 

 

That is why we have chosen to take up for our Multiplication Course Modules, one module per key to InclUsion, the idea of small Mini-U LabsThese Mini U-Labs have been designed to allow participants to follow again the three Movements of the U:

 

Sensing: Giving participants the opportunity to immerse themselves into the subject and guiding question and thus multiplying the different forms and sources of formal and tacit knowledge and learning.

Presencing: Giving participants the opportunity to reflect, share and make sense of what they have learned and thus multiplying the shared sense/sourceof deeper individual and organizational aspirations and purpose.

Realizing: Giving participants the opportunity to actively create ideas for prototype initiatives they truly want to commit and thus multiplying the cross fertilization of ideas leading to real action.

 

Scaling Across

The Multiplication course Module descriptions you are just about to read and not intended to be copied and pasted. They are and can be used and adapted in a variety of ways, settings and formats as part of a longer process of ideally diverse variety of people across different (segments of) organisations, sectors, levels of hierarchy and roles within a system, (non-)disability, who have committed themselves to take on a journey of Discovery, where knowledge, (provisional) answers and actions have to be co-created in order to avoid the trap of producing just more of the same. 

 

Margaret Wheatley describes such an approach as scaling across rather than scaling up. Whereas Scaling up encourages replication, standardisation and compliance - much of what we are working to avoid. ‘Scaling across happens when teams from one organisation travel to another and, through that experience, see themselves more clearly, strengthen their relationships, and renew their creativity. Like a learning journey, these are the visits that disrupt our old ways of seeing and widen our view of what`s possible. Scaling across happens when people create something locally and inspire others who carry the idea home and develop it in their own unique way.`(Wheatley)