“3 Women in 1 Kitchen”: Books-to-Eat Teamwork, 2014

Posted by jlubans on March 18, 2014

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Caption: The outcome/result.

As readers of this blog know, I have the students in my Democratic Workplace class participate in the international Books to Eat (B2E) event. This spring, well ahead of the official April 1 celebration, five teams (of 4 people each) planned, shopped, baked and prepared their productions and 20-minute presentations. Our B2E deadline was March 13, during week 6.

The theme was a folk story or children’s book, chosen by each team, from Latvian literature.

Now, I know, some of you may be dismissing the concept: “I bet it was fun – and as a librarian I kind of like the literary link - but what on earth is Lubans thinking? Kids books and teamwork? Fairy tales and group development? Legends and leadership? Maybe fun, but what’s gained, what’s learned?”

Well, a bountiful plenty. For one thing the assignments are prefaced with lectures, readings, activities and discussion about groups, democracy, conflict, leadership, and teamwork theory. And, each group does a plus/delta debrief immediately following the presentations, just before we indulge in the baked goods.

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This year, as part of its 20-minute presentation each team – spontaneously - included an assessment of how the process went. From what they said, I am convinced that the teams were keenly aware of the reasons behind the project, their own development as a team and their overall successes and failures.

The five titles selected by the teams:
1. "Trīs tēva dēli" (Father of three sons. Latvian folk tale with a not-so0happy ending - anonymous)

2. "Kaka un pavasaris" by Andrus Kivirähk. (“Poo and Spring”)
Illustrated by Heiki Ernits. Estonian. (A cleverly done and controversial kid’s book, just like it might be in the USA.)

3. “Zīļuks" by Margarita Stāraste.* (An egotistical acorn.)

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4. "Kas notiek Dižmežā?" by Margarita Stāraste. (What happens Dižmežs?)

5. “Zvēri rok upi” (God’s digging the river Daugava.) Latvian folk tale – anonymous)

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From the teams’ own assessments (the + Δ) of what went well and what could have been better:

“3 women in 1 kitchen is explosion, but not in our case. ☺
(Note: team member #4 lived at a distance and aided the team in other ways)
“We saw ourselves in each other like in mirror and we could evaluate our leadership style.”

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“The team was self-organizing.”
“We would choose different group, because it is complicated to have four leaders in four-member group. Too high competitiveness.”
“’Yes’ and ‘sheep’ followers could (improve and) become effective followers.”
“No leaders – the same; we all were on the same level.”

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“Lots of smiles.”

Caption: One team included a chorus – the class! - as part of its presentation.

“The tasks we accomplished singing.”
“We could put to ourselves higher requirements.”

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Caption: Fairy food.
“We had some issues shopping for the right ingredients, since the shops don’t really cater for the needs of pixies and dwarfs.”

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Caption: Enjoyed by all!

*Margarita Stāraste, famed Latvian children’s book illustrator and writer, died on February 18 of this year at age 100. She was born February 2, 1914.

@Copyright John Lubans 2014

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