Science Cafés have become pretty boring. Exciting new dialogue formats needs the world. Here come the Finns with: Confession Session. Mikko Myllykoski, president of the Finnish science journalists FASEJ and director of the Finnish Science Center Heureka explains it: Learn from your mistakes!
Confession sessions are a new creation to enhance interactive and participative workshops. The roll-out occured at ECSITE 2016 Graz, a conference platform for science communicators, mostly engaged in museums and science centers. Mikko introduced it to the conference along with his Dutch colleague Ilse van Zeeland. She invented the name.
Mikko brought the throwable microphone to the concept, which is a blue cube made of foam. “Very good for confessing, because the soft fabric absorbs your sweat (and tears) and you can squeeze it, if that helps to calm your nerves down”, believes Mikko.
Like with all great inventions, the idea is simple. The session creates an atmosphere which induces attendees to share their mistakes. This is a bit therapeutic, relieves the confessing person and, above all, the session offers a unique learning opportunity for all participants. This helps to develop a community spirit and professional identity. The dynamics bridge seasoned professionals with younger colleagues and promote the message:
We all make mistakes and that is not the problem. “The problem is, if we don’t learn from them”, says Mikko
SEVEN CARDINAL SINS
In 2017, Mikko experimented with the session at EXSITE 2017 Porto, using a twist: The confessions were centered around the seven cardinal sins. Mikko’s Mexican colleague Amparo Pino Leyman helped him with the session. At the European Conference for Science Journalists ECSJ 2017 in Copenhagen, he repeated the session with his Finnish colleague Ulla Järvi in a similar fashion. Confessors were rewarded with bitter but tasty Finnish licorice. Some of these sessions turned out magnets and attracted large audiences of one hundred people.
Mikko points out one important prerequisite for a successful confession session. It’s important to identify a few colleagues who are willing to join in and perform a confession. “If we can get started with some five solid and entertaining stories, the rest should be easy”, he assures.
ON STAGE IN NEW ZEALAND
Please save the date: At PCST 2018 Dunedin/New Zealand, 4 to 6 April, Mikko and colleagues will run the first international confession session in 2018!