So, our very high level plan at the moment is to create an open source community curriculum with the community. We’ll figure out specific details as we progress over the next few months.
This section in The Village will be used as the core place to talk about all things related to it.
So first question - what do you think should be included in a community curriculum?
And what level is it appropriate for? (e.g. foundation, mid-level, senior, leader)
Ok, here were some of my thoughts with what if community building was taught in schools.
Immediately I thought about how this is naturally happening in school because you’re throwing students together and in the unorganized, unstructured part of their days, community-building is what’s happening.
It made me pause and wonder if we try to overly structure or curriculum-ize community building, does that inhibit actual real, natural community-building? And if so, then how do we ensure that the curriculum enhances the natural connections that are already there.
An example that came to mind was a study I read a long time back about the effect of little league on leadership in boys. They found that little league (a lot more structure to make baseball more accessible) as actually producing less leadership skills than the traditional sandlot-style groups of boys that would get together, work out their roles, and play. The nature of no adults there actually produced better development for the kids than a tightly controlled environment like little league.
So it made me excited because I think schools are already the playground for community-building, but it also made me pause with a lot of caution about how to go about doing that in a way that empowers kids to build their community skills without backfiring. Thoughts??
Often I think and say that a lot of community building doesn’t look like or isn’t called community building.
Like kids playing sports by themselves, it’s such a great way to build community.
I think with a ‘curriculum’ we don’t need to formalise everything/anything, it’s more about opening up people’s minds to what they could or should do to work towards a strong community.
And if we think where people get stuck, is the starting and the knowing they are heading in the right direction. ‘The overwhelm of starting’ is the biggest stumbling block, I think.
So good ! Oof course be thinking about this in a way that isn’t overly formulaic forgot who I was talking to!
Very high level here, but when I think about teaching the fundamentals of community building for kids, I would have them articulate a problem that they experience (like, it’s hard for me to get out of bed, or I really want this new video game but I don’t have enough money), then task them with finding other people who have that same problem.
After that, how can they solve the problem together. Do they just need to talk about it in a safe place? Do they need to put on an event and bring in an expert?
Just some ideas on a caffeine-less Friday
I reckon foundational stuff would be very much welcome.
For those experienced they could use it to reflect on their current approach. I think it’s powerful when someone in a profession has a moment to say to themselves, “oh wow, I’m already doing that. And it has a name. I’m not alone. Cool!” And experienced folks/leaders can also use the curriculum to train people in their team/s.
And for those new to the world of being a community professional it would set them up with a toolbox of ideas and approaches to help them succeed in their career.
Yeap, this chimes nicely with the “bring your community challenges to the course” and then work together to solve them.
In a recent project with a completely new org who hadn’t built any community before these were the things that they needed:
- Community purpose (why do we think a community would be the best way to address this) and we did interviews with colleagues running existing ‘communities’ (which weren’t actually but were useful information gathering)
- Who do we expect to be in this community and what do we know about them? We used Emily Webber’s CoP tests (do they share the purpose/challenges, will they learn things will they be able to teach things) we grouped these by role and also did some affinity mapping on behaviours or attributes of the group.
- We then co-wrote a purpose covering who we are, the purpose of this community is to, what we will be doing, and then some guidelines
- Then we worked out what a community manager role should be for the org, what was most important and what level of resource it might take
- We also mapped out the ‘shape’ of some of their communities and some other communities to show what they looked like and what the limitations were.
Worth noting that this was all groundwork for the org to get them prepared for a community way of thinking so was done with limited input from the people who would make up the community (though there was some, particularly around writing the purpose). So the above I’m describing is what the org needed to feel confident they understood before they could get moving, but it felt a reasonable MVP to get a test community off the ground.
Adding a comment here with a video that I think accentuates my point: Push for "adventure playgrounds" comes with safety concerns - YouTube
I like the idea of thinking through the ‘groundwork’ required to get a community off the ground from a business perspective.
Love these adventure playgrounds. Good stuff can happen when you just let people do their stuff.
Thinking about this the key is creating a space + figuring out ways to get people to show up.
Is that what we need in modern / business communities. Creating the initial space is not hard, it’s getting people to show up and understand the value and what can be done within the space.