The Art of Hosting

A thread started by Jennifer:


I am interested in the educational application of the Art of Hosting techniques. What would happen if the teacher took up the role of host? Does anyone have experience or information on the use of Open Space or World Cafe as a teaching method? What about using the methods in an on-line environment?


Any assistance would be appriciated!




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Great Jennifer.

I am very much on that path as well. Teachers as hosts.. Yearrh !

As I wrote earlier in here somewhere :-) I am co-hosting a 3 day workshop in September for teachers, principles, municipalities and everyone with a passion for the "Future of Public Education".


The workshop will be in Danish, but I will make sure to find a way that we can share the outcome in english somehow. Stay tuned.


Love Anne

Hi Anne

Please let us know how the workshop goes

warm regards, Jennifer

Hi Jeff, welcome to this community! We are also currently looking into a future learning space in a youth club in a social hot-spot in Berlin to work with AoH there. Tim Merry one of the AoH Stewards has been working for a while in youth organizing. Here is an insight into his work:


Looking fwd. to hear about your AoH experiences in VT. Best from Berlin, Frauke

This is a lovely thread, Jennifer. Thanks for offering the question!

I believe that good teachers have always taken up the role of host (most often unconsciously). Now we are in a position to become intentional hosts, because we have an awareness of its potential and want more of it in every aspect of education. For me, hosting is how we "are" when we create the space for deep conversation that results in a "new move." I call this "new move" learning. 

As an intentional AoH teacher, administrator, and consultant/host, I have brought this art into my work with students, parents, teachers, administrators and community members in various ways and shapes. The best situations have involved all of the above in conversation together about things that we desire to advance and evolve to a greater level. Sometimes those conversations have taken the shape of Open Space or World Cafe. Sometimes they have been Circle Conversations and sometimes they have been opportunities for Appreciative Inquiry. The desired outcome or "new move" has helped design the process that takes us forward.

What happens when AoH becomes the way of being in conversation? Something new and exciting emerges because we take time to connect in deep ways with ourselves, with others, and with what's possible. Ingenuity is in every gathering, and embodying hosting is the best way I know of to uncover it!  

The topic of hosting within education was raised again on the emaillist...

Heather Plett wrote:

In response to your query about hosting others' learning, I teach a course in "Creative Writing for Self Discovery" in which I am very intentional about using circle as my teaching methodology. I introduced it by saying that I believe that we have all brought wisdom into the room, and we will all be learning from each other, and therefore I do not want to stand in front of them in a position of heirarchy. I explain the way that the circle will serve as our container for holding the stories we will share and that we will hold the edge for each other when the stories become raw and vulnerable. I've invited participants to bring in talking pieces that they can hold as they share their writing. We ring the bell at the beginning and end of the session to mark are entry and exit points, and we light a candle in the centre of the circle.

From my perspective, it works very well for this type of learning. At first there were a couple of puzzled faces in the room, but mostly people really resonated with it and adapted to it very quickly. I found that, even in the first class, we were able to move fairly quickly into an assumption of trust with each other because the circle feels like a safe space to be. I believe that it is enhancing their honesty in their writing, which is a very good thing.
I've tried to use elements of circle in other classes I teach in a university setting and have been less successful in those environments where students are expecting more traditional styles of learning.
Feel free to get in touch if you want to discuss further.

Some replies:

I love your description of the circle! Thank you so much for sharing this. I teach/facilitate learning in a high-tech environment and am trying to find ways to introduce the circle into my teaching there. It feels risky as engineers are often suspicious of things they consider "woo woo". I like the way that you share about it and will save your words to review before I prepare for my next workshop. 
Thank you Heather!
I'm intrigued by this thread. I facilitate learning in the labour movement and since first being introduced to the Art of Hosting, I have looked for ways to integrate Circle, World Cafe, Open Space and Appreciative Inquiry into all my workshops.
I now open and close each workshop day in circle, using it as reflective space. I use the cafe when there's a need for exploring a concept or when I have a series of interconnected questions that will benefit from the seeding of ideas that takes place in a cafe. I also use a cafe at the end of a workshop to encourage participants to reflect on the new knowledge, values or beliefs they've discovered and how they will take it forward. I use open space at the mid-point of a four or five day session to give participants an opportunity to talk about how they're doing, or what they're thinking or feeling. It's a way to help them integrate what they been discovering in conversation with others and to realize that they're not alone with any feelings of insecurity or being overwhelmed.
I set up three spaces for every workshop - one a more traditional classroom with people at tables in pods, a second space as a cafe and a third as circle. We shift from space to space depending on what we're discussing or experiencing. So far, everyone who has participated in this approach to learning has found it to enhance the overall experience.
Most recently, I modeled the practices in an advanced leadership course before introducing a module on participatory decision-making. Then we worked through the processes of cafe and open space and had participants design their own sessions aimed at group engagement, using open space to develop the design topics.
I'd be happy to discuss more if you're interested.

Reply byCynthia:

Hi Amy,

Let me introduce myself...I am Cynthia Burns and have been in the field of education for over 30 years. My experience is primarily with the Montessori approach.  Several years go I began hosting cafes within our school community and found them to be very well received as the Cafe format is closely aligned with Montessori.  Last year we hosted a cafe with the middle school students and it was wonderful.  The focus was on rights and responsibilities, they loved it!  I actually observed how well suited it is to adolescents ..they were given freedom and responsibility and rose to the occasion. Just last week the class held another cafe with the upper elementary and told me it was also a success.   I believe that the students respond so favorably because the Montessori approach is grounded in the same principles as the World Cafe and they are used to working in groups, collaborating, and considering multiple perspectives.  At the adolescent level of development they crave to talk about big ideas and experience making change.  

Thank you Ria for connecting to the AoH listserve. What called my attention to this was the 'hosting learning' piece on Amy's original questions:


Have you hosted others' learning? How do you use Art of Hosting in classroom or workshop settings? 
How have you described the difference between traditional top-down teaching and hosting learning?


I've been also working in a school for a bit more than a year now - since I have no more than 8 kids with me, a table with a flipchart on the centre is my regular setting.

Even though there is a (understandable) tendency to derive to techniques used, I'd like to go back to the question above in search for attitudes and skills you might share with us: how do you 'host learning' as a teacher / in your classroom ? What changed?

Would love to hear from you.


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