Humiliation as a Lubricant for Knowledge Sharing

Recently, I volunteered to read to a bunch of kids as part of a nation-wide programme to encourage reading amongst kids. Although I had no prior training on reading to kids, I didn’t think that it’d matter much because (a) I know how to read; (b) I know what kids are; and© I’ve attended Dave Snowden’s courses on complex facilitation.

The first session was a disaster. Nothing that I’ve learned as a trainer worked. I started by introducing myself, then went round the class to get the kids to introduce themselves and tell me what he or she liked to do. Some of the kids said they liked to do somersaults, and proceeded to demonstrate their abilities. One kid knocked onto another, and then another knocked onto me, and then everything became a blur. I also tried reading melodiously, and injected sound effects here and there, hoping to grab their attention. Didn’t work.

I lost my voice at the end of the one-hr session (felt longer than that), but I was more determined to do a better job the following week. I analysed the profile of the kids, talked to people who have kids, and brought along a book that I thought could not fail to capture their attention (Charlie & The Chocolate Factory). I wish I could say that the second time was better, but I can’t. In fact, it was worse. Only two out of the 12 kids sat and listened to me, while the rest were doing everything except. I was waiting for the pattern to emerge, but if it did emerge it certainly eluded me.

This week I take a break from the little monsters as I’ve been slated to attend a training session on reading to kids. I tell myself that if I don’t learn anything that I think will help me avert another disaster, I’m certainly not going back to be terrorised by the little monsters again.

4 Comments so far


Edgar, the staff at the National Library Board of Singapore have a survival kit of sorts.  They use puppets, toys and draw carricatures to help tell the story and to stretch the attention span for as long as possible. Maybe they could loan the stuff to you.

I think that you should do what you do so well - play the violin! Perhaps starting the session off with a little sing along while you play the violin might get them a bit more engaged and if they do ask for more, which i’m sure they will, tell them it comes as reward at the end for good behaviour.

Posted on May 26, 2006 at 08:59 PM | Comment permalink


Interesting story. How about the kids sensing that you see them as ‘little monsters’? smile

Posted on May 27, 2006 at 08:46 PM | Comment permalink

That´s nothing.  Six years ago I had little monsters fighting with one another while others were doing cartwheels around the class.  Split the class into groups, four kids to a group and give the ‘best table(s)’ a star. Once they get so many stars they get a reward.

Posted on May 31, 2006 at 03:12 AM | Comment permalink


Allie, that reminds me very strongly of one of my more memorable senior management strategy workshops! I should have used the stars technique…

Posted on May 31, 2006 at 04:42 PM | Comment permalink

Page 1 of 1 pages

Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Comment Guidelines: Basic XHTML is allowed (<strong>, <em>, <a>) Line breaks and paragraphs are automatically generated. URLs are automatically converted into links.