Who laughs in the end laughs the best

Goals of the exercise: To deconstruct the idea that gaining and feeling accomplishment means to defeat other people and/or accumulate goods; To show the participants that defeating other people and/or accumulating goods won’t give you the feeling of accomplishment.
Age of the participants: 10 to 18 years
Number of participants: 10 to 30 (preferably even number)
Duration of the exercise: 15 minutes
Materials: pebbles or marbles in number greater than the participants.

Step by step

  1. Give five pebbles or marbles to each participant. Three, at least.
  2. Ask the participants to randomly walk around the room and tell them that whenever they meet someone they should face each other and look into each other’s eyes trying to keep themselves serious until one of the people smiles or laughs. The person who smiles or laughs gives a pebble to the person who has managed to remain serious.
  3. Both look for another person and do the same again. This activity can take 5 or 10 minutes.
  4. Ask the group to meet in a circle and ask them:
    1. Who has accumulated more pebbles?
    2. Who has less pebbles or ran out of pebbles?
  5. Usually the participants who have more pebbles are very satisfied and this is the moment to ask: who won the game? Usually all the participants point to the person who has accumulated the most pebbles.

Debriefing

  • Is the winner the one who has collected most of the pebbles?
  • Can’t the winner be the person who laughed the most, even though he/she doesn’t have any or has very few pebbles?
  • What does winning mean to you?
  • What does feeling fulfilled mean to you?
  • Does the person who bullies the others look like a winner? Is he/she really the winner?

Authorship/adaptation or source: CooLabora
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