Monday, 18 August 2014

Summary Document of the Ethical Leadership Workshops facilitated by Matthew Hahn in association with the South West Gauteng College [George Tabor Campus] 4 to 14 August 2014

A break down of the individual activities of the EL Workshop:

On 4 August, Matthew facilitated a 'Needs Assessment' workshop with the SWGC [George Tabor Campus] English teachers which consisted of a taster workshop to gauge the need and value of such a workshop on ethical leadership with their students.  Overall, it was well received with some very useful feedback that was incorporated into the student workshop.

5 to 8 August

Matthew facilitated the Ethical Leadership Workshop with 15 students from SWGC.  Although the numbers of students varied from day to day, there was a core group of 5 or 6 that were on time and in attendance every day.  The students were in their early 20's and generally in their final year at the college.

In these workshops, the students examined and performed extracts from Shakespeare and from the interviews of the former political prisoners on Robben Island [taken from Matthew Hahn's play, The Robben Island Bible (for more information about the play and the research and development of it, please visit]. The students also created new pieces of creative writing in response to both the Shakespeare and the FPP's words.

Throughout the workshop, the students examined personal, local, national and international examples of leadership and the associated ethics.   The most time was spent discussing current leadership on a national level in South Africa but a fair amount of time was also spent on examining more local leadership examples within their personal lives as well as lives as students and young people in Soweto, South Africa. 

Over the first two days, much energy was used in the critique of the current government, but soon Matthew encouraged the students to not only reflect on the current situation, but also to examine what they can do differently.  The mantra 'What Can I Do Differently?' was often used as a tool to examine positive behaviour change on a personal level.  The other obvious mantra that came up was Ghandi's phrase, 'Be The Change You Want To See.' From this basis, the students began to examine practical achievable means of changing their behaviour as well as to encourage others to change theirs as well.  As an example, there was much discussion about students who would attend college but not classes within the college.  This reflected poor attendance within the classroom but, as the students saw it, for no good reason [often the lack of money for transportation is cited as a reason for poor attendance, but in this particular case, was not the case].  Students vowed to change their behaviour to be more vocal in their interactions with students who were at the college but not in class to encourage them to attend.

Alongside discussions on ethical leadership, the students also had basic acting or performance lessons with Matthew asking them to always project their voices and to articulate the words that they speak.   This was to encourage the students to communicate better as well as to prepare them for their performance / presentation on Monday 11 August.  The work on Shakespeare was treated very lightly as, at the beginning of the workshop, there was panic amongst the teachers as well as the students when asked to 'perform Shakespeare' which Matthew did not want to increase.  He encouraged them to understand the meaning behind the words through a discussion of each monologue, but encouraged each student to just speak the words loudly and clearly and to follow the punctuation.  

Throughout the week, Matthew assigned the students extracts from Shakespeare as well as from the interviews to be performed on the last day.  They included: 

Andrew Mlengeni’s speech – ‘Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown…’ and his interview.
 'Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow' and Eddie Daniel's speech.
Saths Cooper choice from Hamlet as well as his discussion on the current state of affairs within the national government of South Africa.
‘Once more unto the Breech, dear friends…’ from Henry IV with the entire company of performers.   
There were also four new pieces of writing that had been created specifically by the students for the performance.

On the day of the performance, there was a mixture of students, lecturers from the college as well as upper management.  The student-actors performed very well and clearly communicated their ideas on ethical leadership through Shakespeare, the words of the former political prisoners and their own writing which examined on the ground level how these young people see the current leadership situation as well as their hopes for a more ethical leadership in the future, which they will help shape.  The performance was well received by all and there is hope that this sort of work can continue within and without this college.

From that performance and workshop, Matthew selected three students to represent the college in a workshop to be facilitated that Thursday, 14 August.  The students were paid a small stipend as well as given lunch.  There were to be Wits University drama and media Students recording the students facilitation as well as participating in the workshop. 

The workshop was held in a new community arts space in Mabateng in Johannesburg.  The community attending the workshop on communication skills was the local men's homeless shelter which consisted in boys as young as 9 and young men up to the age of 18.  The three students ran the entire workshop from beginning to end with input, encouragement and side coaching throughout by Matthew.  Although the stated aim of the workshop was to improve communication skills, the college students also wanted to focus on building confidence as well as making sure the young men had fun.  
The workshop was conducted mainly in Zulu and the men jumped right in.  The students has games, songs and activities that 'broke the ice' as well as encouraged the young men to improve their projection and articulation to aid their communication skills.
The students asked the young men how they currently communicate as well as encouraged the notion of establishing eye contact and confidence as corner stones of good communication.
The workshop was certainly a learning experience for all of us.  The young men opened up and told individual students about their situation and how they ended up being homeless in Johannesburg.  The students were shocked at the stories they heard and showed great empathy with the young men.  There was great concern by each of the students that the workshop needed to end by 3pm so that the young  men could 'claim' a spot for the night without fear of being bullied by the older men or have their blankets stolen if the arrived too late.  
Much of the later workshop was dialogue between the students and the young men, which was excellent, but flawed in the sense that the students needed to keep the men active in order to keep them focused.  But this is a next step in their facilitation skills:  having an arsenal of games and activities that focused, energised or aided the Aims and Objectives of the workshop.  But this dialogue won for the students the trust of the young men which then allowed them to share their stories.
The workshop ended with Matthew facilitating a highly energetic game called 'Fruit Salad' which left everyone laughing and in high spirits.

Next Stages in the Development of Ethical Leaders at the South West Gauteng College:
1. Continuation of the Ethical Leadership Workshop at this campus.  There are several students who expressed an interest in continuing this work and leading it.  It was also expressed that cross- college participation must be encouraged throughout colleges in and around Soweto and beyond.  The hall was a good space, but the new hall on the George Tabor Campus has been noted as an excellent opportunity to use in this capacity as a leading college on Leadership Development.

2. Continued development of the relationships established throughout this two week period:  Matthew Hahn, facilitator and theatre director; Wits University [Jill Waterman and the Cultural Leadership Programme has expressed an interest in developing a relationship with the college for cross institutional purposes;  Drama for Life, an MA in community theatre also has expressed an interest in the college; the Wits drama students from the workshop were greatly impressed by the College students' facilitation skills  and asked to keep in touch with them and the development of the relationship with Wits]; the directors of the art space in Maboneng, Johannesburg are also keen to utilise the students as facilitators in future collaborations (there is great interest by the college & university students to continue to work in the space with the homeless shelter); the Robben Island Stories Project, a new project in collaboration with Dr. Saths Cooper, a former political prisoner on Robben Island, Masie Mojela and Matthew Hahn.  This project represents a scaling up on Hahn's ongoing project, The Robben Island Bible, which will consist of interviewing as many grass roots and foot soldiers [both men & women] who fought for the liberation of South Africa but whose voices have been overshadowed by the better know men & women of the Struggle.   The College has been engaged to provide students and media equipment for the recordings of these stories.  It is hoped that drama students from Wits will be available to conduct the interviews whilst the SWGC students record, edit and produce them.  There is much scope of negotiation as this project is in early stages and funding has not yet been confirmed.  Other colleges and other universities throughout South Africa would also be engaged to conduct interviews in their area of the country.  But the goal is for the SWGC to serve as the hub and central storage area for the work.
In summary, it is believed that the contacts established by Masie Mojela and Matthew Hahn over the last two weeks can serve as an excellent launch pad towards the development of ethical leaders with the South West Gauteng College playing a leading role in their development.  Much excitement and momentum has been generated throughout a variety of layers in society.  It is seen as imperative that this continues through the support needed in order for this project not to be seen as a one off and 'finished' event.  

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