Tonight I stepped in at the last minute to teach around 15 children aged eight to ten years.
The subject was health and they had covered the basics like healthy eating and hygiene needs so we tackled our thoughts and feelings.
I asked them if they wanted to work as a large group or two smaller ones and they wanted two smaller ones. We identified good and bad feelings and then I set them a task to script, design and act a play to teach their peers about good and bad feelings. How to put themselves in someone else’s shoes.
We have some very strong minded children in the group along with a shy new person with limited english. Initially they split themselves into two groups with different ideas. One group got on with what they had to do, scripted, found roles for everyone in the group, made costumes out of butcher paper and worked as a team.
The second group found it hard to agree on ideas and consider each other in this. I watched the group having trouble and offered suggestions however it was not working out.
The three in the second group wanted to join the others who were working well together well. This group opted to disband. I agreed and they wanted me to get them something to do in the other group. Instead, I suggested they go and ask if there was a role they could have in the others play. Which two of the three did and were readily accepted by the others.
The play and props they designed were impressive for the 90 minutes they had to achieve this. The play centered around bullying at school and every person had a role, even the shy person who only joined that evening.
They learned not only about teamwork, inclusiveness, but also thoughts, feelings and how to manage these.
What I learned was about challenging my own assumptions and stereotyping. The young people had unconsciously put the people who were biggest, loudest and that I felt had the most stereotypically bullying characteristics in the most vulnerable role of the person being bullied. This made me reconsider my own assumptions around this.
I would like to thank this group of young people for being so inclusive of all others no matter their personality, age, gender and culture in this activity. They adapted and included others at the last minute readily and I believe that working together and displaying these qualities at age eight to ten is an amazing achievement.