Teaching the Democratic Workplace: Student Comments

Posted by jlubans on April 10, 2013

Caption: After the 90 minute final exam the class reconvened for the Egg Drop activity and the Plus/Delta. Here one team explains why its design is the best. Their egg did survive the launch from a “perilous height” – for about ten minutes until stress fractures became apparent.

My students did an anonymous plus/delta on the last day of class (Day 8 on April 4). Overall, the written comments were positive. Many are brief paragraphs on what they are taking away from this class and what they liked. I am heartened and encouraged by the feedback. Here are a couple brief, unedited, examples. (Please bear in mind English is a second or third language for these students):
“Group discussions; learning many new things and having fun at the same time; many examples from real life; different sources (books, articles, film); B2E. (Books2Eat)”

“I liked the reading texts; one reading text would be useful for my Master work; excellent lecturers; thank you for wonderful time, what we spend together! John Lubans blog; nice pictures from the class exercises; new experience.”

DELTAS (What to improve):
There are several deltas but often these are more about the student’s role in discussion than the course’s content and rationale. Regardless, the students have given me many insights. Below are several that have me thinking already!

Little less home reading.

More examples about libraries.
Discussions in class (not so active of asking of questions)

I would like to work in such democratic library. I would like to try more my library (my workplace) democratic. It depends on people, who will work with me. Democracy would have to be everybody’s necessity, if they want to work in democratic library.

Some more reading texts was hard to understand because in English. We (students) could be more active in class (discussion).

Maybe more theory (from HR or psychology perspective).

It would be nice for the future, one lecture devoted to library experience abroad and in Latvia. It would be very interesting to compare.

I think the group was a little bit passive (no discussion after basketball film); amount of text-some weeks it was OK, some weeks we had to read too much = 80 pages; more reading from your book, it was very interesting.

Sharing ideas and listening to other people are very useful skills. I should train the skill to speak aloud. I noticed that after these classes I do it much (more) often.

Maybe was need some example about how work? How he manage his work members.

We were too passive and didn’t use all possible options to discuss matters we should discuss; some issues are possible only theoretically … there should be more time devoted to ways how to manage changes to happen; I’d like if there were more role games for real situations to find better solutions….

There are no changes only plusses. Only – for exam. It was too difficult.
Only it is sad that there are not many workplaces, where we can find a real democratic workplaces. It would be very, very good, if Latvia’s workplaces would be so democratic, how this interesting course.

The are no deltas -; some texts were very difficult, I did not understand them; the film about basketball I like it, but there is one But: I don’t like basketball. But the film was very good! I like very much the basketball coach. (This could have been Gail Goestenkors or the Coach Gene Hackman played in Hoosiers.)

The students’ and my wish for more democratic workplaces in libraries is, of course, beyond our control. I will try to make more use of the annual list produced by the World Blu “Freedom at Work” organization: You can find its 2013 List of Democratic Workplaces here.
And, I will build on my recent blog about the scarcity of libraries as democratic examples by being more diligent in finding and listing those libraries that are applying democratic concepts. For example, libraries that make extensive use of teams should be mentioned. So would those that make use of rotating leaders. And, I’d count those that have a commitment to being egalitarian and applying the Golden Rule to relationships. While outcomes are important, I think good faith democratic efforts and experiments should be recognized.
If you know of a notable one, please let me know.

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