We began with a speaking activity, which can be adapted to any topic. This was a physical activity, since we had to stand in two ovals, one in the inside and the other one in the outside. The people in the outside oval stood facing the people in the inside oval, and Tim gave us three situations in which we had to play a role and face some dilemmas:
- A Cuban hip-hop band was visiting Sagunt: some people didn’t find it appropriate because of the ofensive lyrics they used, and the others stood for it, since they thought art shouldn’t be censored.
- A man had to look after his sick mother and his two children; his girlfriend had a very good job, and they had been talking about living together, but where? They lived quite far away, and none of them was supposed to give up.
- A doctor had committed a “small mistake” which had taken an old woman into a deep comma. Luckily, she was now well, but two colleagues were discussing whether to denounce what the other doctor had done or not.
This activity took about 10 minutes and was quite funny, since we had to play a role and we couldn’t agree with the other people, we had to look for confrontation and defend our ideas.
The second activity was longer, and it involved working in groups. Tim presented us with a children’s book with no words, only pictures. He asked us to predict the kind of language we would use to describe it, including onomatopoeic words, verbs about running and walking, and feelings. The story was a bit surreal, since it included egg-shaped machines, crocodiles sleeping in fridges, and so. We stood in groups of 5 people, each of us with a role, although they changed from time to time. One of us should be the writer, another one the reporter, and the rest of us were “sentence makers”. The latter would speak to Tim about the pictures and, after thinking one sentence that described the actions, the reporter would dictate it to the writer. Then, we would change: the reporter became the writer, and one sentence maker became the reporter, and so.
After having finished the story, we read it in groups to see if we liked it, and we edited it. It was a fun activity which involved co-operative writing, and we enjoyed ourselves.
Finally, the last activity included 74 cards with three choices: we had to read number 1, and decide if we would choose a, b or c. “A” took us to card number 5, “b” to card number 7, and so on. The story talked about a person and the dilemmas he had to face in life: we had to choose whether to say in our town in a badly paid job, or move to the city to look for a better job. Of course, it wasn’t easy: we had to work in groups to make decisions, which weren’t very appropriate in our group. We went to the city, got robbed, asked money from our boss who wasn’t very happy about it, moved back to our town to set up a business that didn’t work, set fire to it to get some money from the insurance company, went to jail for it... Tim asked us to think of a morale for our situation, and ours was easy to find: “never set fire to your business”.
Tim told us that this exercise was like a maze: we were presented with problems to look for a solution, but our choice took us to a new dilemma. Some groups were lucky and could finish their activity safe and sound, but others had a dramatic ending. This activity took about 15 minutes, and it was funny, although it also was a bit frustrating, because no matter what we decided, it all turned wrong in the end and our problem grew bigger and bigger. In our group we ended up with lots of money but no happiness, but at least it was an end (if you play this game, you’ll understand what I mean: after lots of wrong decisions, you only want to finish no matter how!
This was an interesting session, because we worked in groups and had lots of fun thinking about what we should do in every situation. Hope next session is as much fun as this one
The Crocodile Blues by Coleman Polhemus is a nearly wordless book.