“Think of the last time you were in a totally boring gathering and ask yourself: ‘Where was your heart and mind?’ Typical answer: Not present. Could be out on the beach, gone fishing, thinking of the next project -- but definitely not there. Only an uncomfortable body remains stuck in a chair -- maybe even snoring.” -Harrison Owen, creator of Open Space Tech (OST) and author of Open Space Technology: A Users Guide
Owen asks an interesting question for innovative educators to consider. While we would like to believe every meeting, presentation, or breakout workshop was meaningful, relevant, and engaging, the truth is sometimes they aren’t.
Owen, whose simple approach was developed more than 30 years ago to help people be more productive, follows up with this question: “How much better for all if you just went and did something useful!?”
OST employs The Law of Two Feet. It is something we all do, albeit sometimes covertly as in the example above when our body is present, but our brain is not. The Law of Two Feet allows you to use your feet to bring your brain to a place where it would be of better use. If you’ve been to an EdCamp, Unconference, Unplugged, or other progressive, learner-directed event, you are familiar with the law of two feet. If you are unfamiliar, the concept may seem offensive or disrespectful. Read on to understand how this model may be useful to provide a worthwhile experience for those who attend your event, meeting, conference, symposium, summit, or retreat.
Typically, if someone is bored at a meeting or event, they may be seen as rude. But what if we acknowledged and even embraced those who were bored and flipped the situation on it’s head. Maybe the problem is not that someone is bored. Instead, perhaps the meeting or event could be more effective, more engaging, or maybe the person who is bored should not be there in the first place. Perhaps their time could be better spent elsewhere but they weren't given an option.
The Law of Two Feet, takes these considerations into account. The law says this: