What being a teacher taught me

I learned a lot from a group assignment we had this year where we had to run our own workshop for some fellow students. Our event was all about experience design with a focus on the 5 Senses.

Personally, I had never done much research into experiential design beyond reading the basics in Events Management: an introduction during my first year of study. So learning about ways experience design is used in reality was so interesting to me and I loved that it had a scope wider than just the events industry; from a retail perspective for example it’s of great importance as I found out from Gaetan Germain’s blog. I also learned about Jinsop Lee’s research into the how the senses are stimulated by different experiences in which he used graphs to grade each sense out of 10 while carrying out an activity for example riding a motorbike or making microwave noodles. As an event producer I learned that consideration of all of the senses are important in order to create a complete experience for attendees, but it’s also not necessarily best to stimulate all senses to 10/10 if that doesn’t suit the experience you’re trying to produce.

In terms of the actual execution of the workshop, I’m proud of what we were able to achieve. We blindfolded students and stimulated their senses in order to convey different decades including the 70s and 80s. Leading a workshop for a change was an important and useful assignment for a number of reasons:

  1. It meant that I had to know and understand the subject well enough to teach others, which means that the things I learned won’t leave my mind once it’s all over (as sometimes happens with essays or presentations). We had to be prepared to answer questions about what we had taught and I feel like that made me retain more.
  2. It scared me. Public speaking is mortifying on a good day, but teaching your peers is always 10 times worse. My main fear was wasting their time (I’m not a qualified lecturer, we’re in the same boat. What can I teach them?). But it was great, we did activities and presented information different to the things we’ve learnt from any previous lectures. Also, the 50-minute length was scary at first but now I think it gave us all time to loosen up, a 20-minute presentation is uncomfortable all the way through so I think the extra time helped, as well as the fact that the workshop format meant that we could be more informal and not talk at people the whole time.
  3. I worked with people I didn’t know before which meant I worked harder. There’s nothing worse than the one group member who is dead weight, and the worry of being that group member among strangers made me want to act on top form so as not to let the others down.
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