Activities that stimulate “out of the box” thinking
- Participants pick from a collection of simple household objects, such as a key chain, a flashlight, a pen. What would they do to modify the object by adding features that would make it more useful?
- An object is held up in front of the group and each person, in turn, suggests a different way it could be used. For example, a pizza box might become a slide, a shelter for a bird, a hat in bad weather, or a shield in a food fight.
Working with diversity
Complexity is your friend. Within every group of participants, there is some degree of diversity. We know that the more diverse the group – in terms of culture, learning styles and levels of experience – the more complex. We can take steps to respect and reflect that diversity in how we facilitate learning.
- The information and materials we use always have a cultural bias. Images and experiences of immigrants, refugees, Aboriginal people, working class people and people with disabilities are often missing in mainstream materials. Knowing people appreciate seeing their own cultures and circumstances reflected, we can look for material that presents diverse images and experiences.
- We cannot know all there is to know about every culture because there is diversity within cultures and cultures are always evolving. Furthermore, we can be limited by stereotypes based on generalized information. We can ask questions that invite people of diverse backgrounds to share their experience and inform their fellow learners and the facilitators.
- We can ask participants to reflect on who is left out of the written and audio-visual materials presented and why. How would their stories differ from the “mainstream” experience?
- We can invite participants to share approaches to learning familiar to them that may widen the repertoire of the whole group.
- By integrating a variety of approaches for learning and expression, you increase the chance of making the experience meaningful and accessible for people of diverse cultures, learning styles and levels of experience. Verbal methods alone favour those who can articulate their ideas with words, whereas visual or kinesthetic approaches create openings and reduce gaps among diverse participants.
- When we create opportunities for varying combinations of pairs and working groups, people have the chance to work alongside others who have shared and differing backgrounds from their own.
- Mixed into the experience of diverse groups of people are stories of discrimination and powerlessness based on differences. Rather than trying to gloss over negative experiences, we can create a safe atmosphere for people to share their stories and find support and strategies for dealing with those encounters.