I got this idea from Adiwena (like many Indonesians, he has no last name), a student who responded to the Spiral Model I presented with his own Web of Learning, a model of learning in which the learner is at the center, engaging with a variety of teachers and classes, each of which offers something potentially valuable. The learner has to find the best way to learn in each context, making the most of resources available, and weaving the various courses into the web or pattern of learning s/he needs or desires.
Like the card game of the same name (AKA "I doubt it."), which plays on the joy of lying and the fear of discovery. Mark Twain described lying as "a recreation, a solace, a refuge in time of need, the fourth Grace, the tenth Muse, man's best and surest friend." It is also a fundamental language skill that should not be neglected.
- Give every player 5-15 blank index cards.
In his autobiography, Leon Trotsky tells the story of meeting an old electrician and Narodnik named Ivan Andreyevich Mukhin. As Trotsky tells it, Mukhin used navy beans to give a lesson in revolution. As you're sorting out your feelings about Trotsky and the Russian Revolution, consider this learning activity.
I have given up using the evaluation technique in which you ask people, "If this meeting were a pair of shoes, what kind of shoes would they be? Roman Sandals? Pumps? Flippers?" Or, "If this workshop was a cup of coffee what kind of coffee would it be? Espresso? Turkish coffee? Soy or whole milk?" (I like that kind of thing, but I have found that not everyone does!)
But, we can borrow a tool used to evaluate coffee and other things to evaluate our work: the radar chart. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_chart)
Learned this at Kani Club.
In pairs, one person (The Giver) mimes giving the other a gift. Her mime should show some quality of the gift -- size, weight, temperature, value, etc.
The Receiver receives the gift in kind (showing its weight, etc) and identifies it. E.g., "Oh what a beautiful lobster! Thank you so much!"
The Giver, in the spirit of "Yes, and...", follows the Receiver's lead, adding some detail about the Gift. E.g., "I pulled it up in the trap this morning and thought of you."
This is a spiel that I give when beginning work with a new group.
In this course there is one rule: feel free. To me this means three things:
- Feel free to be comfortable. Feel free to stretch, to sit comfortably, to stand, to use the bathroom. Feel free to make a phone call (outside). Feel free to sleep (outside).
- Feel free to be uncomfortable. Feel free to be confused, to be shy, to be ashamed, to forget, to be stumped. Feel free to be frustrated, even angry. Feel free to be ignorant, to be mixed up, to be off balance.
A simple approach to emancipated teaching. As my friend Charley once said of a different activity, "This is a double black diamond!" To use this activity well you need to know what you are doing, and not doing, and why.
This is more the seed of activities that can be devised using a common technique, than a worked-out activity.
I learned about "writing into" from John McGough, a TDU organizer and lover of poetry. He sent me this poem by Robert Kelly in which Kelly writes his own poem into Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer." Here's the first bit of Whitman's poem followed by Kelly's version:
WHEN I heard the learn’d astronomer;
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me;
Write a one sentence position you feel strongly about, a principle.
Then, write a "second thought" on the same subject. It should be a thought that you feel is valid to some extent.
Then, question that second thought, and so on until you have gone back and forth ten times.
At the end, repeat the initial sentence.
This activity should reveal the complexity of seemingly settled positions, making the writer think about her views.
- I don't cross picket lines.
Another surrealist game from Alastair Brotchie. This one involves the random creation of definitions.
Each player writes a question on this pattern: "What is ----?" (e.g., "What is solidarity?")
The players each fold down their papers so the questions are concealed and pass their papers to the next player who writes a definition on this pattern: "It is ----" (e.g., "It is a scream in the night." or "It is the final resting place of our dreams.")