No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought.
John Stewart Mill
You know it's funny when it rains it pours
They got money for wars, but can't feed the poor.
When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.
Maybe you've heard this famous military maxim: "Let him who desires peace prepare for war." Personally, I think there is too much conflict in the world, too much war and too much competition. I agree with Einstein that one cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war. Those that live by the sword die by the sword and those that live with the sword are inevitably tempted to use it. This is especially so in situations of scarcity and given modern consumption patterns that is exactly what we are creating.
Two years ago a report appeared backed by well over a 1000 scientists from over 90 countries. As one newspaper headline put it the reported stated that two thirds of the world's resources are 'used up' . We need to seriously examine the way we do things and the way we think about what we do. We need to move beyond competition.
The presentation began with a fight. Well, not exactly, the fight came later but after that prolemical preamble the line was too good to miss.
For the warm-up game I had chosen to do Snowballs. As the presentation was about to start I thought the game would be impossible to do as there were only three of us in the room and Snowballs requires a group. However, more people quickly arrived and eventually all the seats (just ten) were taken.
This presentation was unusual for me in that the material I had brought with me was limited to just one medium-sized holdall. Since I believe in giving children choice during lessons I also like participants in my presentations to experience making real choices. To my mind that means in part giving people control over what activities are done. However, in this presentation I wanted to focus on particular games and show how they could be used in different ways. Accordingly I had a more rigid structure.
I began with a few remarks about non-competition, chance, the importance of having a timer and also setting challenges. We decided we would aim at doing five activities in the time we had available. I had wanted to do ten! I also set the scene for the snowballs game by starting a story from my youth. I'm not going to tell the story here but it led naturally into the game.
After Snowballs I introduced Pocket Bingo. I had always played this with small numbers but we managed to come up with a method that could be used by large groups. One thing I was pleased about was the way I showed how to introduce the game with youngsters.
Pocket Bingo uses a grid, typically with four vocabulary items in four colours. This gives a total of 16 flashcards. With youngsters it is very useful when going through the cards before the game to take the time to sort them out as they appear on the grid. That way observant children can start to realise what card will come next. This helps fix teh vocabulary in their minds and can give them confidence as they are able to make accurate predictions. It also looks like magic which is always nice.
After Pocket Bingo I got out my set of Activity Cards and we did a couple of activities and went off on a couple of tangents. I talked about using apparent randomness to breathe life into activities that are closer to being drills than games. For example, rather than going around a grouup one by one and asking a practise question use a dice to determine who is asked. In small groups this means that the same person may end up answering the same question more than once or even several times in a row, which is funny. It also means students must be ready to answer at anytime and can't "switch off" until it is their turn. It also means that some students might not get a turn at that time, which is not a real problem as events will eventually even out..
Suddenly the timer I had set for our challenge to do five activites went. It was about five minutes before the whole presentation time was due to finish and we had only recorded three activities. Shocking! So in the last five minutes we did another two activities and then I finished the snowball story and distributed the hand-out. As usual in the effort to do everything and finish on time I totally forgot to use my Good-bye Song. Maybe some day.
Having a quick juggle before the presentation
Games and activities:
getfile: Beyond Competition (notes by Chris)
PDF File B5, 1 page, 96 KB