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Holding the space

Holding space means protecting the boundaries so that people can work. Harold Jarche

As I read this it adds up to another article on holding space and then things fall into places – this is the biggest part of my job in facilitating unschooling.

I don’t really give lessons. And I do less focused facilitation than I’d like to. Often it feels that Robert has more intense sessions with the kids than I do, helping them to learn programming, looking into space missions or exploring ancient myths. So sometimes I feel not fully satisfied because I’m not able to pinpoint in traditional terms what exactly I do.

Holding the spaceI make sure our kids have exposure to the world, time and space, safety and fun, food, movement, books, building blocks, art supplies, tools and toys. I help to negotiate rules and exceptions from those, to prevent or resolve conflicts, to make appointments and to get to people and places. I do all kinds of things “meta” –  keep eyes on meta-learning, observe, document, reflect and get others in the loop.

Most of the work kids do themselves. It’s their learning and I’m holding the space for them.


Heather Plett writes on holding space in a totally different context, but it’s well worth reading. She shares a few lessons learnt that I’d like to explore further:

1. Give people permission to trust their own intuition and wisdom.
2. Give people only as much information as they can handle.
3. Don’t take their power away.
4. Keep your own ego out of it.
5. Make them feel safe enough to fail.
6. Give guidance and help with humility and thoughtfulness.
7. Create a container for complex emotions, fear, trauma, etc.
8. Allow them to make different decisions and to have different experiences than you would.


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