The Spiral Model is a framework for putting our values and principles into action in our social movement training.
The scaffolding spiral enables participants to progressively experiment, stretch their abilities, and develop new skills in the learning/growth zone while building anchors to the comfort zone.
We can also use the framework to guide the planning and design of our events, as it will assist us to build psychological safety. The Spiral Model is underpinned by regular and ongoing reflection. As we reflect and receive feedback in our training and events, our thinking about the spiral, and our practice of it, continues to evolve.
How it Works
1. Start with the knowledge and experience of the participants
The spiral begins with the experience and knowledge of the participants. When most of us went through school, the teacher would always start with “new information and theory” as though we didn’t know anything. We don’t want to repeat this pattern in our social movement training programs.
2. Identify Patterns
After sharing their experience, participants look for patterns they can use to form a collective picture. The picture needs to include all of the voices in the room and and to recognise differences as well as similarities.
3. Add new information and theory linked to the patterns in what people know
The analysis includes looking at relations of power – at who benefits most and least from whatever is going on.
4. Practice skills, strategise, & plan for action
Participants then try on, test, and explore what they have learned: they practice new skills, strategise, and plan for action.
5. Apply what’s been learned in the world
This provides a basis for more reflective and effective social action, a new phase of experience, which starts the next turn of the spiral.
This handout has been adapted from the following book: Bev Burke, Jojo Geronimo, D’Arcy Martin, Barb Thomas, Carol Wall (2002) Education for Changing Unions. Toronto, Canada: Between the Lines.
Copyright info: All rights reserved. Reproduced with permission of the publisher.
- Community Organising Fellowship COF resources in the Commons Library
- Working in Groups: Start Here in the Commons Library
- The Experiential Learning Cycle – 350.org
- The Learning is in the Details – Training for Change