Journey Sticks

The Journey Sticks

The technique was introduced at the workshop in Bishop’s Castle.

The sticks had been provided at the start and individuals were encouraged to create their own non-verbal record of ‘The Journey’  the 2 days in Bishop’s Castle.

The use of this technique will be further developed and be one of the key elements of the formal IO 3 contribution to the project.

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Partners were then requested to use the Journey Stick process in their own localities.

The SEDETT Task in detail (based on the Workshop exercise)

  • 5 individuals creating their own individual Journey Stick
  • record the process
    • initial instruction
    • (with permission of individuals creating sticks) recordings ‘en route’ (some people prefer to work privately)
    • record of results (Use varied media: written and phographic)
      • the completed stick
      • the thoughts, feelings and observations (this aspect is very important – of the same category of importance as the IO 1 research)
      • Informal evaluation of the process by the stick creators

The aims of the exercise included

  • introducing to the partnership the concept working with of a completely non-verbal, informal, individually created activity
  • building partnership experience in the practicalities of the process, including reporting back to the partnership & thereby, assisting the development (or not) of one minor element of the project’s  required ‘Intellectual Output 3’.

It was an experiment introduced by Pathways & designed to enable the project management to assess the degree to which partners were prepared to engage in the creative activities upon which the development of IO3 is dependent.

Results (click to view) were received from

VsI Inovaciju biuras



C.J.R.A.E. Iasi



Glyndwr University Wrexham

Comments from PGCE Students (3) and Experienced Training Provider


Limerick Institute of Technology

Journey Stick Evaluations


The responses by partners raised a range of issues regarding the use of creative activities within the SEDETT project.

Pathways produced the following report which was presented at the partnership meeting in Sevilla.

‘The Journey Sticks Exercise’

An example of informal, experiential, creative learning

Pathways presented the partners with an exercise that:

  1. Is group based, individually creative & an informal voluntary action
  2. Requires no verbal or written skills to complete[1]
  3. Explores the degree to which partners may respond use & develop such activities[2]

Success of such exercises depends on

  • the enthusiasm & commitment of the facilitator
  • An open-minded and mutually supportive environment in which the action occurs
  • Group assessment of value, after experiential action,[3] by participants & facilitators


  • Four partners produced reports.
    • Two partners used the Journey Stick exercise as a group activity & reported
    • One partner produced written comments about the concept
    • One partner asked 5 individuals to create J Sticks & reported comments & photos


If there are ‘no bad artists, only bad art teachers’, then what was missing in the Pathways approach that led to a low level of engagement?

The comments demonstrate that presentation of the exercise was not clear regarding

  • the ‘how’ and ‘why’ this needed to be a group exercise
  • the function & presentation skills required of the facilitator
  • how the exercise related to project/partner/personal concerns


Despite Pathways having used J Sticks with all age ranges, abilities & in different cultures,[4] & understanding that ‘creative-experiential’ education can be ‘uncomfortable’[5] made major errors. Pathways

  • Was insufficiently sensitive to the nature of the partnership
  • Failed to produce clear written guidelines & ‘rationale’
  • Wrongly assumed the degree to which partners would engage in the process
  • Overestimated levels of understanding of the purposes of creative activity
  • believed its own ‘enthusiasm’ & ‘faith’ would be sufficient for ‘engagement’.[6]

Interestingly (’significantly’?) the two partners that had a group exercise (as at the workshop) are previous Pathways’ partners & have worked in similar fashion.

What success was there?

  1. The exercise provided opportunities for
    1. partners to ‘consider’ (even if only theoretically) the process
    2. an ‘opening-up’ of issues of importance related use of creative activities
    3. Underscoring the need for the partnership to consider the time factors required for delivering the SEDETT project
  1. Individual actions & skills were demonstrated & could be shared & used by all
    1. LT, RO & IE reports contain a range of valuable experience

What concerns need addressing?

Partners require

  • valid reasons for engaging in creation activities
  • time to engage and learn appropriate skills & mentoring processes
  • The project needs to demonstrate how creative activities function within organisational development most probably as part of ’soft skill’[7]


  • Use of creative methods has it own skill requirement. Facilitator ‘learners’ need to
    • Develop appropriate skills
    • Understand varied functions (especially for organisational learning) that exercises such as J. Sticks provide
    • Consider reflexively ways that outline ideas may be adapted
    • Create their own creatively based exercises
    • Be provided with individual mentoring support
      • to experience & learn effectively the above require more time than is available

Consequential Action:

Pathways will consider the following topics:

  • ‘Comfort & The Learning Process’
  • ’Soft Skills Creatively Considered’

[1] the specific exercise was chosen because if its simplicity & capable of stimulating reflection

[2] Previous responses by partners to such exercises had been limited

[3] As for example with sports fixtures. There are ‘players’ views, ‘spectators/managerial views’ etc – but a game is necessary in order to make a judgement

[4] The origins of the activity are ancient. One version is its use by Native Australians as a means of recording/remembering important physical routes.

[5] All educational processes can create ‘discomfort’. Being in a classroom, being asked to publicly answer questions etc is very difficult for many.

[6] anyone reading this and suspecting that there is the shadowy figure of ‘the dumb Ox of Sicily’ in the background, is correct.

[7] Soft skills are not mentioned in the project application – but they are crucial elements of any successful organisation or enterprise