Conocimiento originates from Community Learning Theory by Dr. Roberto Vargas. It is connected to his work with Restorative Justice Circles. Conocimiento, a Spanish term, means to have shared awareness and understanding of each other. This continuous opportunity to “know” each other creates a stronger connection between group members. Conocimiento and similar practices that develop a sense of inclusion have been proven to be effective in building positive relationships and helping groups prepare to work collaboratively toward a common goal. Robert Garmston and Bruce Wellman, as part of their Adaptive Schools research and training, use inclusion activities to create healthy teams and impactful meetings. Many specific activities can serve as a Conocimiento. In making a decision, facilitators should consider the needs of the group; for example, does the group need to take time to get to know each other better, or are members coming with a lot of stress and outside distractions? Time allotted to a Conocimiento can also be varied based on the meeting length, desired outcomes, and group needs. Some Conocimiento activities can be done as a whole group if groups are small. Most Conocimiento activities have participants talking or working with one other person or in a small group so that all participants are engaged.
More than just an icebreaker, Conocimiento should occur each time a group meets to build strong positive relationships, which will serve as a foundation for collaboration, conversations, and decision-making. While many of the Relationship Building Protocols can also be used as a Conocimiento, below are other activities that might be used.