Clarification – Where do you stand?
Stage of the project
- to stimulate discussions and ideas on particular topics and related issues;
- to empower participants on the topics discussed;
- to stimulate critical thinking in participants;
- Participants: from 5 to 10 per group;
- More than one room, according to the number of groups;
- Flipcharts (one per group);
- Two signs (“yes” and “no”) stuck on opposite walls in each room;
- Time: from 30 to 60 minutes (according to the number of statements);
- Stimulated participants on the issues/topics;
- Increased participants’ critical thinking;
- Collected different arguments and confronted different opinions;
The trainers/coordinators prepare a number of statements (5-10) that touch various aspects of the topics/issues they would like participants to start thinking about, and write them on flipcharts (one per flipchart).
Then, the trainers prepare one room for each group, putting the flipchart in the room and the two Yes and No signs in opposite walls of each room.
The trainers divide the participants in small groups (5 to 10 per group), settle each group in one room and explain the exercise to the participants.
The trainer presents the statement to the single group and the participants go to the “yes” wall or to the “no” wall according to their agreement or disagreement on the statement presented. Everybody has to choose a wall, no one can stand in the middle.
Once everybody has taken a position, they start to explain why they agree or disagree with the statement and everybody is free to change side of the room during the explanation of someone else, if they feel convinced by someone else’s argument.
It is not the purpose of the exercise at this stage to reach a consensus, thus it’s up to the trainer to decide when it is a good time to finish the discussion and move on to the next statement.
Move through all the statements following the same routine.
When all the statements have been discussed, the trainers might want to ask participants about how they felt and give room to resolve any outstanding issues.
At the end, since the groups probably have not reached a general consensus, it could be good for the trainer to ask some questions, such as:
- Why was it so difficult to find agreement on some statements? Why was it easier with others?
- Do participants feel stronger about some of the issues/topics than about others? Why?
- Are there any issues people would like to spend more time exchanging ideas about?
Tips for designing of the statements:
- The trainers should focus in teams on what may be important issues around a specific topic and choose a list of items to be discussed;
- Once the items have been chosen, the trainers should focus on what are the (two opposing) extreme points of view one could take on each item;
- Finally formulate one statement per item that puts one fairly extreme view into words (statements not too obvious and not too extreme, better to avoid words such as “maybe”, “rather”, etc.).
Adapted from: Intercultural Learning T-Kit No.4, Council of Europe and European Commission, November 2000