Occasionally we bring you training materials in the fields of nonviolence and group work. These are added to the ‘Workshops’ section of the INNATE website.
‘Heroes and heroines’ is a variation on a workshop which is used in different settings and ways. While it may be more suited to use with young people – from mid-secondary school age upwards – it could also be used by adults. It is for a ‘general’ audience though it could be interesting to do it with people from the peace and reconciliation movements.
We all have heroes and heroines, some more than others, good, bad or indifferent. But looking at the heroes and heroines who we all have can be a good entry point and way to explore some of the deepest values we possess.
Of course, depending on the context, a number of the heroes and heroines can represent what we would feel are negative, populist or violent values, but starting to reflect on that could be the start of some learning. And even where heroes and heroines are genuinely positive role models there is the danger that people may feel that they cannot emulate these ‘saints’ – that is a danger that could also need explored or dealt with if people are not to be disempowered.
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Heroes and heroines
Notes about the workshop are in square brackets [ ] and rough timings are given for an approximately 2 hour workshop. Timings given are for indicative purposes and will vary.
This workshop will look at what we value through thinking about our heroes and heroines. The questions being asked are:
- Who are our heroes and heroines?
- Our heroes and heroines as young people? [Substitute another category if working with a defined group who are not necessarily young]
- The heroes and heroines in our country and culture? [‘Country’ and ‘culture’ may differ; explore this briefly if needed to explain]
- What values do these heroes and heroines represent?
- If we are moving to a peaceful world, what qualities would we want in our heroes and heroines?
- And what do we know about those who are struggling for peace, justice, human rights and the environment in our own country and abroad?
[Put these questions on a handout or slide; if needed, provide the questions translated into different languages represented in the group.]
Play some live or recorded music as people arrive, possibly on peace themes.
Brief introductions to the facilitator(s), if needed. [2 minutes]
Who are we? This can be done by people placing themselves geographically on an imaginary map on the floor of the room to indicate where they are from; this applies to a local, national or international group, though obviously the scale of the map will change according to the nature of the group. Ask participants to say their name and where they are from, or one thing briefly about themselves if everyone is from the same location. [Time variable according to size of group, possibly 7 – 8 minutes.]
Agenda overview; briefly go through what we will be doing. [3 minutes]
Divide into small groups. In an international setting with different languages, the groups can be defined by language [i.e. people work in their own language as much as possible to facilitate communication]. In a setting with the same language or complete fluency in a common language then the facilitator(s) can try to get a mix of people in each group.
Individuals think about questions 1 – 4 above, noting down their own thinking. [5 minutes]
In the small group people share their ideas briefly; small groups can be facilitated by the workshop facilitators or by a volunteer within the group. [10 minutes]
The small group decides on one ‘representative’ hero or heroine to depict using a short dramatic scene. [10 minutes]
Prepare a one or two minute dramatic presentation based on the chosen hero or heroine [8 minutes] [Participants should be free to do this as they wish, i.e. the presentation can be fantastical.]
Dramatic presentations to the plenary session by each small group [10 minutes]
Brainstorm on the qualities peaceful heroes and heroines would possess [List on chart, 5 minutes]
Resume discussion in the same small groups, including questions 5 and 6 and the results of the brainstorm. [Remaining time except leaving 10 - 15 minutes for closing]
If the group is a cross-community one in a divided society (e.g. Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland) then the facilitator may need to pick up on different patterns of heroes and heroines, if this is a useful way of dealing with the issues. This depends on the nature of the group, what is expressed, and the time available to explore it in this or other follow up sessions.
Conclusion: What kind of follow up is possible will depend on the nature of the group and whether it is an ongoing one. One possible project is for individuals or groups to research people working in their own situation (country or area) for peace, justice, human rights and the environment, and put together a display on them (individually or collectively).
Give everyone a slip with the reference for Housmans World Peace Directory and say what it covers (and/or other appropriate sources of information)
If there is time and the group needs a lift, there is the possibility of playing a short cooperative game at an appropriate point [e.g. before the final small group discussion].
If there is time there can be a closing round of very short comments a) covering anything unsaid that people want to share, and/or b) comments on the workshop itself. If this is impossible because of time, the facilitator(s) can ask participants for comments as the workshop finishes and people are getting ready to disperse.