Where do you stand?
Group 3 – specific subject – tool for national language teachers
pupils from 16 to 18
- To practice the oral techniques of conviction
- To challenge pupils’ views and opinions on racism, anti-semitism, xenophobia and intolerance
- To raise pupils’ self-awareness of the role they play as members of society
- To get pupils to share their thoughts and opinions
- To draw and recognize the differences in thinking in the group
- To break down communication barriers and encourage everyone to express their opinion
- To make pupils aware of how quickly we sometimes have to come to a decision and then how fiercely we tend to be unable to accept the other’s point of view
- a list of statements
STEP-BY-STEP DESCRIPTION OF THE ACTIVITY
Tell the pupils that they should imagine that on one side of the classroom there is a minus (-) sign and that on the opposite, there is a plus (+) sign.
Explain that you are going to read out statements and then those pupils who disagree with the statement should move to the side of the classroom with the minus sign. Those who agree should move to the side with the plus sign. Those who have no opinion or who are undecided should stay in the middle, but they will not be able to speak.
Read out the first statement.
Once everybody is standing in their chosen position, ask those by the wall, in turn, to explain to the others why they chose that position. They should try to convince the rest of the group that they are right and therefore, that the others should join them. Allow 5-8 minutes for this.
When everyone has spoken, invite anyone who wishes to change their position to do so.
Now read a second statement and repeat the process.
Once all the statements have been discussed, go straight away into the evaluation & debrief the activity by asking the following questions:
- How did you feel during the exercise?
- Was it difficult to choose? Why?
- Was it difficult to stay in the middle and not to be able to speak?
- What sorts of arguments were used, those based on fact or those which appealed to the emotions?
- Which were more effective?
- Are there any comparisons between what people did and said during this exercise and reality?
- Are the statements valid?
- Was the exercise useful?
RECOMMENDATIONS / TIPS
In order to facilitate participation you may invite pupils who are particularly silent to voice their opinion. In the same way ask someone who intervenes too often to wait a bit.
The Statements are necessarily controversial. It is important to explain this at the end of the evaluation.
Discussion on several points can be developed:
- Despite their ambiguity, there is also a certain truth in the statements. Explain the fact that in all communication different people understand different things in the same statement. It is also normal that people think differently and differ about what they think. There is not necessarily a right or wrong attitude or position. What is more important is to know and understand the reasons that motivated the position.
- Try to draw out the links with the reality of everyday life. Often we think only about one side of a problem. It also happens that we are sometimes asked to support an issue but not always given the chance to think deeply about why we should do so.
- You could ask the group to consider how this affects democracy.
- How much do we actually listen to other people’s arguments? How well do we make our points clear? The more vague we are the more we nourish ambiguity and risk being misunderstood.
- How consistent are we in our opinions and ideas?
Some examples of statements:
- Muslims can not really integrate into European societies
- Nationalism means war
- Men are more racist than woman
- It is better to be black than gay
- Roma (gypsies) are the only true European people
- Young people are at the forefront of racist attacks
- Immigrants take away houses and jobs
- Love can solve any problem
“All different – All equal, Education Pack”, European Youth Centre, 1995