Loes Berkhout on working with the Tribes at Knowmads
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Loes Berkhout on working with the Tribes at Knowmads

Today I can finally meet the students, or let’s use the right vocabulary ‘Tribe members’ of which I’m jealous of for years. ‘Knowmads’ has been THE school I wish I had studied when I was 18 or 20. Fantasies of mind-blowing authentic connection between students and teachers, personal transformation as main subjects and really going for creative out-of-the-box solutions for social and sustainable change. Wow to the max!

I’ve been invited to open myself up for life as it comes. And to not live from expectation and sky high dreams. I entered the worn out building, meeting different faces, feeling curious and also wait-and-see. I thought they would all shake my hand and tell me how much they are looking forward to have our NVC (non violent communication) workshop together. This didn’t happen. ‘Oops, what If they don’t feel like it? Then what do I do?’ Insecurity kicked in. ‘Are they actually in for this?’ I started wondering… We started off, some Tribe members were still sending text messages, some were making jokes, nobody introduced themselves to me. The thought ‘I have to work hard now to get them on board’ came to me and immediately I let go of it. No, I want to work with what is. So I did. I Introduced NVC, I showed them the jackal, I invited them to share their jackals: undermining thoughts about others and themselves. ‘Deliberating’ said a girl. Some started to enjoy our learning process. I shared how nervous I felt in the beginning and that I had a judgement about them: ‘they are just acting cool’. I asked them to ‘guess’ my needs. ‘Need for authenticity?’ Mmm.. not really. ‘Need for acceptance?’ Yes. And there was another need which I felt was ‘threatened’: my need for safety. Already with speaking this out more comfort settled in my body. Nobody laughed or discussed how I was feeling. I felt seen, only by saying how I felt and not making it their responsibility. ‘What can we do?’ a guy asked. ‘It’s not something you have to give to me, I really want to take responsibility for my own needs, it’s not your fault that I feel this way.’ I honestly explained. This is exactly what I and how I want to teach, real, close to myself, vulnerable and theory in the jacket of just ‘living’ it. And yes I feel the masks, in all of us. They are acting cool and in reaction I suddenly think I have to act cool, what a story… The rest of the day went quite smooth. I enjoyed demonstrating a role-play with a mom (played by a male student) who was irritated by her child for not paying enough attention to her. They felt the transformative power of ONE person choosing to speak out of honest connection, transparency and compassion is enough to change the whole conversation, the whole relationship. I see that any of these Knowmads can be this person. That’s not my fantasy, I see it’s already there, present.

Big thanks to all.
Loes Berkhout,
Trainer/facilitator non violent communication

1 Comment

  1. Floris Koot

    Ha Loes,
    You’ve been there and I missed it. Awesome. You make yourself beautifully vulnerable and it works.
    And indeed, although you keep it very personal, these young Knowmads can behave a bit übercool. Perhaps they also act cool, because being immediately vulnerable to a new workshop host isn’t as easy as it seems. And, hey, they dared to choose a very radical school after all, at times with parents and friends not understanding. They joined a school that loves them for being prepared to break some rules. Which means at times being difficult to work with, unless you show heart. I personally love that. I miss that (call to) honesty and passion at times in other groups. And indeed, when they get to it, they really go for it.

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