Activities that help people begin to analyze their experience. Some are also useful for adding information to the discussion, or for practicing knowledge.

Plastic Bag Education

The idea is to take a random object that is utterly familiar but considered unimportant and use it as an object of learning, finding the connections between that object and ourselves. (Reminds me of Marx's question in Volume One of Capital about how two objects can be made commensurable.)

Step one is just to take the bag and answer the question: What do you see? This step requires time and care, it should be detailed and very specific, a close description, a close reading.

What do we want? Why do we want it?

This activity combines "What do we want? When do we want it?" with "Ten levels of 'Why?'"

Good for: animation, personal reflection, starting discussion of goals and strategic vision.

Set-up: circle-game, sitting or standing, walking (like on picket line), followed by individual work and then, at the end, circle again

Number of people: enough for a "we"

Materials: none (could be interesting to have people create placards or picket signs at the end)

Ten Levels of Why?

A nice way to dig under obvious truths. I learned the basic technique here from Emily Schnee, from whom I learn so much. I have found that many students experience this as a revelation because it calls on them to question again and again when they are typically called on to give one answer.

Take a simple statement of an identity (I am a teacher), or a problem (I don't have enough time to do work I want to do), or just about any simple sentence (slugs leave a trail)...

Spoken version:
The player says her/his sentence out loud, then one person asks "why?"

Sample triangle tool analysis

For this activity, rather than an example of using the activity, I want to provide "talking points" and questions I might use to orient myself before facilitating this activity. These are not notes for a lecture I would give. They are not the right answers that I am looking for, they are just to help me clarify my own thoughts. They may help you do the same. But you will need to clarify your own ideas.

On the three points of the triangle: