Facilitating learning means establishing dialogue and ensuring cooperation mechanisms with individuals, groups and communities. This means that the youth worker has the attitudes, knowledge and skills to support young people in identifying and pursuing their learning needs and to then choose, adapt or create methods, methodologies and digital tools in residential and online environments accordingly. Ideally, the youth worker and the young person trust each other. The youth worker actively supports and enhances young people’s learning processes, self-responsibility, and motivation, and the youth worker empowers young people to improve their personal situation and to stand in solidarity with others to do the same.

This definition taken from Competence Model for Youth Workers is how we understand the facilitation of activities with young people. It is a dialogue with young people, and we, as facilitators, are not higher in hierarchy than them, we are equal. We also are not the ones who know everything and have all possible wisdom. Young people often have more knowledge or skills than adults, and we would like to emphasize that it is important to empower them to exchange this knowledge/skills with their peers and with adult people. Sometimes they need guidance to identify their learning needs and to discover how much they already know and that they can share knowledge. Adults working with young people should know methods and tools to help them foster learning and exchange among young people.

What is also very important for us is the creation of a safe space. Here is what Cristina Leasa, a member of our consortium from Dointia Dance Studio, said about this process: “What I cannot emphasise enough is the importance of creating a warm, calm and safe space for everyone to have a space where they don’t feel judged, where they feel understood and heard”. When having such a space, we can address sensitive topics with young people, we can speak with them about what really matters to them, we create a relationship where they can be themselves and can be honest with us as facilitators of their learning. We believe that creating a safe space is the responsibility of the facilitators – they have more experience than young people, have already experienced such spaces in the past (while young people might not have such experience), and have tools for it. What is important while creating a safe space is to be authentically curious about what young people have to say. Adults should give them room for their expression. It doesn’t mean that adults shouldn’t speak their minds – it is important it is a dialogue with young people, which often doesn’t happen in youth’s real life. 

Another important issue in the facilitation of learning is human relations. Unfortunately, they are not often stressed enough about it in the formal education system (which is, fortunately, slowly changing), so nonformal education is a space where they can discover the full potential of working with other people in groups, exchanging their ideas, even arguing in a respectful way. NFE programmes show to youth that people are different and that diversity is powerful. Such experiences are a great training ground for building healthy relationships in daily life, at work or in the family.

It is relevant for the facilitator to be ready to hear feedback from young people. As mentioned before, youth programmes are all about the learning needs of young people and receiving feedback from them is crucial to check if their progress is being made. 

Sometimes it is necessary to give out control and allow young people to follow what is alive in the group at the moment rather than focusing on implementing the programme we have in mind. For that, listening to youth skills would be necessary for the facilitator. 

The facilitator should provide a space for reflection. During our Blended Mobility “Let’s folk!” in Hungary, young people emphasised the importance and benefits of having such a space. We should keep in mind that during the reflection, we should focus on youth learning experiences rather than evaluating the day (what was good, what was bad). By asking questions to young people, we harvest what they learnt, what they discovered (about themselves and other people), what their emotions were, and why they reacted in a way they reacted to some stimulus. Such a moment of pausing is tremendous for their growth, and it teaches them that they can do that in their daily life and benefit a lot from it. This is a huge part of the learning to learn competence which is part of Youthpass 8 Key Competences.

Last but not least is to keep Experiential Learning Model (also called Kolb Learning Cycle) in mind while preparing activities for youth. The model was created by David Kolb – an American educational theorist. The model describes a typical way for learners to acquire a new skill or/and knowledge. In the model, it is important to have a concrete experience on which we can reflect on and draw conslussions for our learning and apply new knowledge/skills to future experiences/situations. Below you can find 4 stages of the model:

1. Concrete Experience
2. Reflective Observation
3. Abstract Conceptualisation
4. Active Experimentation

The cycle is a continuous process, meaning stages repeat, so earners can build upon their knowledge and experiences. It is possible to enter the learning process at each stage, but Kolb claims that learning is full when all 4 stages are completed.