I recently taught a workshop at Bike!Bike! Tijuana. If you've never heard of Bike!Bike! that's cool. It's only a world wide annual conference for bike lovers, and in particular people who volunteer at bike collectives. The scene is usually packed with bike punks, anarchists, nomads, bike messengers, wrenches, advocates, organizers, you know...people who do it for the love of bikes and not for money.
If you're just here for the Multiple Intelligences zine, that's fine. CLICK READ MORE and you'll find it at the bottom of the next page.
I played a part in organizing the event by collecting bikes, hosting bike repair parties and organizing rides to Tijuana. The day before the start of the conference I met with 30 folks from around the world (Chile, Montreal, Wisconsin...) and we took a leisurely sunset ride to Mexico.
Oh wait, I'm supposed to be writing about Multiple Intelligences again, right.
Well, I'm getting there. I just thought you wanted a little lead in.
Ok, Bike!Bike! day one. That's what this post is about. I led a two hour workshop on something that I care deeply about and I want to share it with you!
First of all, I took a bike maintenance class when I was 15 and the "instructor" was a mechanic, who didn't really care to be instructing. He sat us down and asked what we wanted to learn. No one knew what to say. We didn't know what we didn't know yet. So he decided to go over brake adjustment. He did some stuff. I watched from 15 feet away. And then it was over. I left the class feeling like I hadn't learned and thing and that it was my fault for not understanding.
I don't want to make anyone feel that way. That kind of thing happens when classes are not being taught for the students with the student's learning styles in mind. And that happens all too often.
There are so many ways to learn. Not just the visual versus auditory learning styles that we know about. Some people understand the world in vastly different ways, and by knowing the different types of intelligences, we can bring together many techniques to augment people's learning.
I do this with bike maintenance lessons. I use music to set a mood and create a safe space. I insert math for the left brain dominant learners. I lead activities that allow students to build interpersonal skills and relationships. I show paintings, pass out tactile tools and encourage people to fiddle with stuff if it helps them learn. I limit my talking and I think carefully about my words. Saying things like "let me know if you want assistance," rather than, "do you need help?" There's a big difference. One of those statements can really disempower people. So that's a little bit of what this looks like in practice.
In the workshop at Bike!Bike! we started off with a round of human bingo for bikers. About 40 people mingled, learning about each other in Spanglish until I invited them to sit down for a short introduction to the materials. I handed out a zine, explained the theory and then sent people out again to wander the room and study the 9 intelligences, which I had posted on the walls. Then we switched gears to identify which intelligences people feel like they haven't had the chance to build. Knowing your weaknesses is a strength, ya know.
After a short discussion in small groups, I divided everyone up to do an activity that I teach at every workshop.
Then we regrouped to discuss how to build a class that flows in such a way that students really get the most from the lessons and the experience in general. The finale of the workshop was awesome. In groups of 5 or 6 people I had team choose a subject and design a 2 minute lesson using as many intelligences as possible. Maybe later I'll post those videos. There was singing, rapping, beatboxing, dancing, math lessons, simulated bike riding, and stunning visual aids.
I'd like to say this was the best workshop of the entire conference...and I did attend quite a few others, so I have to admit, there is something to teaching in a way that engages people. I get bored sitting still for too long. People want a chance to share things about themselves and in a room of 30-50 people, that's hard to do. But when a lesson is DESIGNED to engage people and spark discussions and people are encouraged to work in small groups, people get the experiences that they seek.
I had fun, and I think it's safe to say that all the folks who attended had some kind of fun learning with me. Is that cocky? I don't think so. I wish more people thought about they way they teach.
Stories from the road and bike shops en route.
Author: Sylvie Froncek
I've ridden thousands of miles, led group bike tours, taught maintenance classes and started bike collectives, all in an attempt to share what I love with great people. Read about my adventures and tell me about yours!