Dialogue with pupils

One of the most impressing event of my life I can say.. It was promising lots of excitement at the planning phase..and it was.

When Heidemarie W. Pietzka, my DUO at this workshop, proposed the idea I immediately thought about how we are going to transfer the methodology. Then I said to myself "trust in the process" and my DUO partner has already had experience in organizing a workshop with pupils. I was worried about how we will make them understand the core features. We needed to be understandable because our target group was at the age of 10 which means we had to be concrete, not abstract. So we decided to give only 3 core features which are "slow down", "listen deeply", "speak from the heart" with attractive pictures.

The students were from a public school in Ankara and since they have been told a week before they were very excited too. The workshop consisted 2 parts. At the 1st part we introduced ourselves with explaining the reason why we are there. Since we sat in circular arrangement we had the didactic center in the middle during all parts. We explained the meanings and how the material they see there is used. We had a scarf, a singing bowl, a ball as a talking symbol and 2 pairs of core features in white papers with pictures. The core features we used are "Slow down", "Listen deeply" and "Speak from the heart" in Turkish. Then we asked them to introduce their selves and we asked them to walk to the center, to ring the bowl before they say their name. While the sound of the bowl was still heard they came near to us, got their name cards which we prepared beforehand and went back to their chairs. We aimed to make them get acquainted to the sound of singing bowl and understand slowing down and respect each other.

After introduction part we introduced core features and the meaning of them. We practiced the dialogue session with asking them what they want to talk about. They learned very easily but we had to remind them the core features because as a result of their age they were not patient sometimes and some of them were much eager to express themselves.

After a coffee break when we came back to the room we posted several sheets of the topic of the session on the walls in a visible way for all of them. Before we start the session we reminded them the core features, how to act when they want to talk, what ringing the bowl meant during the session. Then we introduced the subject and the time frame. We needed some silence breaks during the session because of reckless pupils. As reminders we showed the core features when necessary.
We asked the pupils change places for the reflexion part which took place after the dialogue session. At this part we asked them how they felt about dialogue. They told us that they got very excited before the event and after it happened they are happy that they had an experience like this.

The main objective of planning a workshop with pupils is to introduce the methodology at their very early age. At this young age they are already aware of communication problems, they suffer from not being listened. We believe that "as the twig is bent so is the tree inclined", it has been a most remembered memory for them for their whole life.  

Sharing the experience with an expert dialogue facilitator has contributed to my personal development. I am grateful that she lit this idea. All photos and videos during the implementation of the content and reflexion part has been done by Peter Seier. Rabia Vezne, my colleague, helped us for the necessary translations. I am thanking them a lot.

Since we emphasized that they are young pioneers of Dialogue their pride on having an experience of dialogue was so visible. They told that they will share the method among their families and friends. Some thought of using it at the class environment.


First Transnational Dialogue Workshop

17th of December presented me a gift this year too. My first dialogue facilitation took place in Ankara with Peter Seier, how difficult it is to define him; a close friend whom at the same time so easy to work together and entertains you with many special personal properties, a musician, a fantastic story teller where you feel like you've been one of the characters. And ... I had the chance to have my first workshop with this intelligent man :)

Another speciality of this workshop was that we had Heidemarie Wünsche Pietzka, developer of DIA-FCC project and one of the trainer of the project, as the evaluator of our workshop. I am thankful to her not only for providing trainings at the Training of Trainers but also the support she gave during the workshop. After the workshop we had 2 hours reflection upon our training.

This workshop has been the first transnational dialogue workshop organised by YIMEM & Strategy Transnational and it has been run by the trainees Peter Seier from Strategy Transnational, Germany and Ferda Selem Adıgüzel from YIMEM, Turkey. It took place in Ankara, Turkey on 17th of December 2011 and lasted approximately 7 hours including breaks and lunch. Attendants were Turkish, teachers and women from work life who were speaking fluent English. The workshop language was English and it consisted 2 parts. In the first part before lunch, DUO’s, the evaluator, Heidemarie Wünsche Pietzka, and participants introduced themselves and the dialogue methodology has been introduced by us . A clear distinction between “discussion” and “dialogue” has been drawn. Core features of dialogue®, the implementation method of dialogue and didactical centre have been introduced to the participants with several teaching methods.
At the second part, the room has been settled with a didactic centre proper to dialogue session. The subject of the round was interculturalism and what interculturalism meant to us. Before introduction of the subject general rules have been repeated. The attendants were very communicative so it started a bit fast without leaving any space to thinking. To slow down we rang the singing bowl to serve as a reminder to slow down. Dialogue session would have been more challenging if the attendants spoke in their language. In general the atmosphere of the round was easy going without any problems.
After the dialogue session reflexion part took place. At this part we had the access to the inner world of participants and how dialogue touched their feelings. They stated that dialogue is much better way of communication since it depends highly on listening deeply and slowing down. According to the participants the main problem arises from not listening deep enough and rush in communication. They also stated that they can use the methodology in their daily lives such as in family and work environment.

® To make core features more understandable we drew an analogy such that;
We thought “dialogue” as a table with 4 legs and named the legs as Perception, Building a new perspective, Listening and Talking. We especially stated that features form a whole, one may belong to another classification as well. Classified features looked as follows:
-          Slow down
-          Embrace the paradox of differences
-          Suspending assumptions and certainty
Building a new perspective
-          Create a “container”
-          Radical respect
-          Adopt the stance of a learner
-          Practice a spirit of inquiry
-          Listening deeply
-          Observe the observer
-          Openness
-     Speak from the heart


1st Dialogue Workshop in Turkey

Expected day of this year is coming...As a partner of DIA-FCC project, we will perform our first DIALOGUE on the 17th of December, 2011. My DUO partner is PETER SEIER and the workshop language is English. It will be supervised and evaluated by DR. HEIDEMARIE WÜNSCHE PİETZKA.

The workshop consists two parts : Introduction of the dialogue and the DIALOGUE itself. At the introduction part we will make participants aware of the distinction of "dialogue" and "discussion", then inform them about David Bohm, the necessity of dialogue and the Bohm Dialogue. At the second part of the workshop we will have a dialogue session which is estimated to be about an hour and a quarter.

The photo you see above is the turquoise balls which will be in our session. They were bought by Peter, my DUO, from the Grand Bazaar, one for me and the other for him. It symbolises a strong friendship and flow of meaning between us. We hope that the shared meaning will spread to whole group and emerge a new understanding.

Anyone interested to take part in this activity, I will be pleased to give further explanation on the venue and time where the workshop takes place.



I would very much like to thank to Psychiatrist Professor Kemal Sayar for this eloquent article. For Turkish users here is the link for his web page: http://www.kemalsayar.com/

The wise biologist Humberto Maturana from Chile says : 'If a person tells what reality is to the ‘other’, actually demands obedience. In other words he claims that he has a privileged idea about reality’. From these we are able to see the illnesses of our ‘hearing impaired’ country. One sided thought which ignores whole views expect itself and never hears them, gives no value to other thoughts, claims that it is the only representative of reality, only and only it asks for obedience. Just to spite the ones who say ‘Shut up and listen to me, reality spring to life in my existence’, revitalizing conversation and dialogue is very important these days.

The need for Dialogue

David Bohm is a famous quantum physicist and a philosopher. He cudgels his brain on how people can understand each other and the universe they live in with his book ‘On Dialogue’ that has been recently translated in our language. For dialogue first a system for sharing has to be formed for people to know each other. People who would experience dialogue don’t need to have an aim, and it is not expected from the group to get a result to be put in practice in advance. For this Bohm gives an example:Some time ago there was an anthropologist who lived for a long while with a North American tribe. It was a small group of about fifty people … Now, from time to time that tribe met like this in a circle. They just talked and talked and talked, apparently to no purpose. They made no decisions. There was no leader. And everybody could participate. There may have been wise men or wise women who were listened to a bit more – the older ones – but everybody could talk. The meeting went on, until it finally seemed to stop for no reason at all and the group dispersed. Yet after that, everybody seemed to know what to do, because they understood each other so well. Then they could get together in smaller groups and do something or decide things.
Concepts such as discussion or debate cannot take the place of dialogue. People first need to suspend their presuppositions for a healthy dialogue. In the circle of dialogue; I’m not expressing my thoughts heatedly to the ‘other’ whom I don’t like his thoughts and find him threatening for my existence and furthermore I stop swearing to him. I imagine that I’m at the same boat with him. If there is a fight for existence and non-existence, we will together live or die. We are mirrors for each other, nobody demands each other to change his mind. We only are in need of expressing ourselves and understand the ‘other’ better.

Conviction Rooms

Sometimes the values which are counted unconditional constitute obstacles for dialogue. How can you get in dialogue with the one who says ‘I am the one to define the priorities and constants of this country’? We need to keep up talking. But it’s the effort of understanding and listening that create the feeling of necessities are not so unconditioned. If we listen each other with patience we can grow away from destructive and accurate beliefs and we can notice that our aim is not to suppress the ‘other’ but to survive with the ‘other’.
Dialogue is not about creating ‘conviction rooms’. By approaching others for a deeper understanding, we understand their thoughts and make their thoughts ours.
In the country we live communication circles must be revitalized. We need to start a long term communication with the guiding spirit of remorse and leave prejudices at the checkroom. But unfortunately we are at cross purposes in our country. Bureaucracy ignores altering demands of community and behaves as it is the only shade of ‘unique reality’. Period of obedience is over. It is the period of dialogue. You have to present the ‘other’s voice as precious as yours. Dear peremptory’s voice, maybe you are wrong…What about to have a talk?

Radical empathy

I understand your pain as if I experienced your situation. This is the key sentence of empathy. Martin Buber, the wise Jewish intellectual of the last era, said ‘The inner improvement of human ego, as many presumed, does not emerge with the inner relation we built. It happens by approval of our existence and knowing that we are approved’. We are validated by the acceptance of the ‘other’s. The other side of the relation must be totally enjoyed for the validation of the ‘other’ in order that I imagine what he feels, knows and thinks. I don’t wipe out the distance between me and the ‘other’ by welcoming. I accept that he is unique, different from me and sui generis. I take the risk to encounter his life in his uniqueness and totality. Dialogue is something like this, I open my heart to the difference of the person that I encounter. If the ‘other’ exists by a piece of mine, the relation between people would be a game and dialogue would be an empty fiction. If we need to form a real relation we have to keep a distance and we have to see each other as independent individuals. The soul and the meaning of ego is mutual relationship. You are the one inviting me to presence and I am the one inviting you. When you accept me as the unique person who I am and you encounter me in your uniqueness, we both validate each other. No, we are not role model for each other, we are unique people. We build bridges at the distance between us and get into relation and we strengthen ‘us’.

Recovering by talking

When we encounter the ‘other’, we will not lose our centre and soul. When we see from the ‘other’s perception we don’t lose the possibility to live the relation from our side. We can’t guess the level of anger of the ‘other’ because it can be totally different from our anger. If we take a look at Levinas he says ‘The alteration of the ‘other’ cannot be totally solved’. But we can do this : Now and here we can suffer with the ‘other’. We can share the pain sacrament  as if it is our pain. His face invites me to talk the truth. His face touches my heart. I am the first to receive this message. I have to account for my existence. ‘It is me as far as I’m only answer for’. I get cured when I try to cure you. I take your pain on as if I wipe out my ego, I put your soul on me and I want to understand you.
Turkey can only cure its wounds through relationship. With a responsible morality. Repeating that the reality is relationships and dialogue. With the difficult morality of facing pain together. With the morality of creating a deep sustainable psychological contact. The souls and hearts which have been wounded by the authority don’t want to feel the breeze of another. Only a wounded can heal the ‘other’ in real terms.
There is always hope. No need to shout or be angry. When the deep currents of community start to communicate and realise that the whole story of human being is just related to encounter, something will change in spite of the authority asking for monologue.  We can find the power we need at the noble creation of human being.


Empty Space

“In the dialogue group we are not going to decide what to do about anything. This is crucial. Otherwise we are not free. We must have an empty space where we are not obliged to do anything, nor to come to any conclusions, nor to say anything or not say anything. It’s open and free. It’s an empty space. The word “leisure” has that meaning of a kind of empty space. “Occupied” is the opposite of leisure; it’s full. So we have here a kind of empty space where anything may come in – and after we finish, we just empty it. We are not trying to accumulate anything. That’s one of the points about a dialogue. As Krishnamurti used to say, “The cup has to be empty to hold something.” David Bohm - On Dialogue
The 2nd Steering Commitee Meeting of Dialogue – Facilitating Creative Communication was held between 14-17 of May, 2011 in Talinn, Estonia. The Project completed its half time life span, and it was just the exact time to take an overview to the issues regarding to the Project;  decisions to be taken and deadlines for  the decisions were discussed. I’m using the word “discussion” which is contrast to dialogue only to attract you.

The desks and chairs were U – positioned facing to a projection screen, a desk of manager and flipchart. Matters were spoken through the day and at the end trainees gave feedbacks. At the feedback we imitiated to sit in a dialogue session where we had obstacles such as desks and the talking symbol could only passed from one hand to other contrary what we do in dialogue sessions- the talking symbol is always left in the middle when the speaker finishes his word. According to the disipline we acquired from Dialogue nobody cut other’s word but only this one was not enough to turn the session to a Dialogue because our conversation became one like “I agree or disagree”. This was a successful experiment to see that a dialogue is not for decision making.
Dialogue is about creating a collectively shared meaning in a microculture. Therefore in a group dialogue we do not decide on issues because decisions occupies one’s mind. Deciding means taking responsibilities. We need to create an empty space in our brains for collectively shared meaning which may be formed within Dialogue sessions.


Core features of Dialogue Process

"A basic notion for a dialogue would be for people to sit in a circle. Such a geometric arrangement doesn't favor anybody; it allows for direct communication. In principle, the dialogue should work without any leader and without any agenda. Of course we are used to leaders and agendas, so if we were to start a meeting without leader - start talking with no agenda, no purpose - I think we would find a great deal of anxiety in not knowing what to do. Thus, one of the things would be to work through that anxiety, to face it. In fact, we know by experience that if people do this for an hour or two they do get through it and start to talk more freely." David Bohm - On dialogue

-          Create a “container”It is a space where it is safe to reveal our deep truths and inquire with the curiosity of a learner into the truths of others. I think this is the room,  the athmosphere and the group created to make a dialogue session.

-          Adopt the stance of a  learnerThis attitude enables us to be genuinely curious and to put aside our cultural conditioning to be “knowers”. The Zen master Shunryu Suzuki had the following formulation : “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” We have to get over our prejudices and have the excitement of getting to know somebody new.

-          Radical respectI acknowledge the other person in her/his essential being as worthy of respect. Respect is more active than tolerance : to the degree I am able to see the world from the perspective of others. Every human being is special and there could be many things we might learn from each other.

-          Openness I bring an openness for new ideas and other perspectives. I am open to questioning long held habits, assumptions and beliefs.

-          Speak from the heart I speak which truly engages me, that which is truly important to me. I do not speak in order to shine brilliantly, to theorize or to make a speech. I am economical with words. This helps the group to be whole-hearted.

-          Listen deeply I listen  the other person without reservation with empathic openness that invites the other person to reveal in trust her/his unique world. This is all we need to solve the problems, in daily life we do not spend enough time and interest to listen others.

-          Slow down – In dialogue we have the oppurtunity to become aware of where our automatic, knee-jerk mental and emotional reactions come from. Without slowing down our communication process, such transforming awareness is scarcely possible.

-          Suspend assumptions and certainty The differences in our beliefs, assumptions and interpretations provide the fuel for endless misunderstandings and conflicts. In dialogue we practice becoming aware of our assumptions and judgments and holding them lightly in “suspension” so that we can observe and acknowledge them.

-          Practice a spirit of inquiry I put aside my role as “knower” and develop a genuine interest in that with which I am not familiar. I develop an attitude of curiosity, awareness and humility: “I don’t know and I am interested in learning.”

-          Embrace the paradox of differences I become increasingly able to  live in the creative tension that allows that both “this” and “that” can be true. I refrain from doing violence to a situation or a person by forcing it or her/him to conform to my picture of the world. Can you ever imagine a world without color shades?

-          Observe the observer I become a witnessing observer to my own listening and speaking, and in the process my fixed positions soften and transform. “Observed thought changes”-David Bohm


Who is David Bohm?

"I give a meaning to the word 'dialogue' that is somewhat different from what is commonly used. The derivations of words often help to suggest a deeper meaning. 'Dialogue' comes from the Greek word dialogos. Logos means 'the word' or in our case we would think of the 'meaning of the word'. And dia means 'through' - it doesn't mean 'two'. A dialogue can be among any number of people, not just two. Even one person can have a sense of dialogue within himself, if the spirit of the dialogue is present. The picture or image that this derivation suggests is of a stream of meaning flowing among and through us and between us." David Bohm-On dialogue

David Joseph Bohm (1917–1992) was an quantum physicist who studied in the fields of theoretical physics, philosopy and neuropsycology and contributed to the Manhattan Project. He was born in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Romania and left for USA at the age of 16. He grew in Pennsylvania and studied physics at Berkeley, there he joined J. Robert Oppenheimer's lab and started to work on his doctoral thesis. David Bohm became famous for his work on Plasma Theory-The fourth state of matter and he got an appointment at Princeton University. There he met Albert Einstein and he regarded Bohm as his intellectual successor. His days in Princeton were numbered because of the results of political situations he faced. He moved to Sao Paulo as a Professor of Theoretical Physics. Brazil became the home of former Nazis so he hated being there and decided gladly to go to Israel when Haifa Technion offered him their chair in physics. There he met his wife; Saral and moved to Bristol.

David Bohm was impressed by Jiddu Krishnamurti's philosophical and sociological ideas.  A fruitful exchange between Bohm and Krishnamurti has occured and they wrote the book "The ending of time". Krishnamurti tought that the root of our problems lies in man's quest for security. He asked : "What will make a human mind change? What new factor is necessary for this? Bohm answered:"It is the ability to observe deeply whatever it is that is holding the person and preventing him from changing."

Bohm was disturbed that the two greatest scientist of 20th century; Albert Einstein and Neils Bohr were good friends once but later they became noncommunicable. Einstein was working on relativity and Bohr was working on quantum theory. He thought that if they were in a dialogue they might have listened properly to each other's opinion and moved out beyond relativity and quantum theory. He also saw that this failure was widespread in society either.

In his later years, Bohm wrote a proposal for a solution that has become known as "Bohm Dialogue", in which "equal status" and "free space" form the most important outline specifications of communication and the appreciation of differing personal beliefs. He suggested that if these Dialogue groups were experienced on a sufficiently wide scale, they could help overcome the isolation because he thought that a group about 20 to 40 people is almost a microcosm of the whole society.