The task we set ourselves in an English for Activists class was to analyze an upcoming local election with major implications for parliamentary elections that would follow later in the year. The context was a recent victory by the Liberal Democratic Party in the Upper House elections and the continuing decline of the radical left/green parties which most of our participants support. The idea of this activity is to imagine alternative parallel scenarios and analyze each possibility as if it had already happened, to visualize alternative election results and identify the key factors in our favor/against us. It can be used for other scenarios where there is more than one possible outcome.
Divide into three groups.
- Group A will prepare to discuss the reasonable worst-case outcome of the upcoming elections, analyzing who won and who lost, how it happened, what it means for the future, etc.
- Group B prepares to discuss the reasonable best-case outcome of the upcoming elections, analyzing who won and who lost, how it happened, what it means for the future, etc.
- Group C consists of two to four emcees. (See below for their role)
The groups meet to prepare. Members of groups A and B should think about typical shows and take on roles (e.g. Professor at Tokyo University, retired politician, etc.). Members of group C should also think of particular TV show hosts to mimic, but also should come up with questions to ask the experts in each scenario.
The key is to imagine the reasonable best-case and reasonable worst-case scenarios, sticking to reality so as to help us discuss the actual possibilities we face. This rule may lead to some interesting discussion about just how hopeful (or hopeless) our situation really is.
When all groups are prepared, we set up a Sunday Morning political talk show format with an emcee (or pair of emcees) who asks questions and calls on the panel of experts (the group participants). Flip a coin to see who goes first. The premise is that the show is after the election and we are analyzing the result.
Repeat with the other group, assuming the other result.
When finished, ask the whole group which scenario is more realistic? Why? What are the key factors?
Brainstorm a list of issues of concern to the participants, e.g. global warming, nuclear energy, inequality, domestic violence... Ask groups to choose one issue (or one that they want to do that is not on the list -- feel free) and prepare their talk show about that issue.
Do this as news from the future, setting a date ten or twenty years in the future and asking people to imagine the best and worst case scenarios at that point in time and how they came to pass.
Do the reports as press conferences, with the audience being members of the press.
So the reports as short videos, which are then shared and discussed.