Recently we published David Santiago’s training blog which gave a Portugese perspective on this subject. This is Brendan’s very interesting viewpoint.
What do people want and what do they need from mediation training ?

If a trainee is going to actually practice mediation after the course then they need a sound understanding of the theoretical and conceptual base. This can be an emergent process, they don’t have to learn everything from a Powerpoint slide deck.

They will also need to understand how different mediation is from other processes and how awkward it will feel initially when doing it. Role play is perfect for this as it gets as close as possible to the real thing but in a safe and reflective training environment. The skills can be taught and then practised within the role plays, and it becomes clear to the role players how much concentration is actually required. They discover this for themselves.

They will need to understand the process steps of mediation and while there are many variations, most will have a preparatory stage, an understanding/listening stage, a search for solutions and then final agreement. But the detail in each of these steps will need to be provided.

Some consideration of the psychology involved as well as the difficulty of acceptance facing all new ideas will be useful.

Trainees might also want some other things:
to be able to ask many questions, without feeling silly or that the learning is being interrupted;
to be helped understand individually;
to have breaks !
to have time for reflection;
a good environment in the room and comfortable seating and tables;
to build confidence.

In designing courses over many years, the divergence of learning styles must always be kept in mind and a mixture of exercises, activities, discussion, videos, small group work, role play all built into the final package.

And one other ingredient – it should be fun. This is not to detract from the serious nature of the venture but when people are having fun they relax and a relaxed mind is better able to absorb new learning.

Is this what you received on your last training or did you get a static presentation where the class was led by an ‘expert’ ?

Finally, isn’t the classroom the perfect place to demonstrate the skills we use in mediation?