The students watch the short film „A Chairy Tale“. Starting from the film’s perspective the students tell the story of the film from 2 different points of view. This leads them to a reflection and discussion about conflicts.

Aims and objectives

  • to look deeper into the term „conflict“: What is a conflict?
  • to try to detect what causes conflicts
  • to explore ways of understanding and managing upcoming problems (intra- und interpersonal)
  • to add the intercultural aspect to the general way of addressing a conflict
  • to find out which strategies are useful to address irritations

Material needed

  • Laptop with internet access
  • Video projector
  • Screen or large TV

Preparation

Acces to the film „A Chairy Tale“ (National Film Board, Canada, Claude Jutra & Norman Mc Laren, 1957):

Further links:
The film on Vimeo
The film on Youtube
The quality of the film is better in the French version!

Theoretical background on conflicts and the Iceberg model
(Peace Education, The Iceberg Model for Conflict Dynamics, Online-service D@dalos)

Step by step description

1. Students watch the short film: „A Chairy Tale“ (9,54 min.)

Content: A man reading a book wants to sit down on the chair next to him. But the chair moves back. By various strategies the man tries to reach his aim – sitting on the chair. An interaction between the chair and the man is built up. At the end the man lets the chair sit on him – that is the moment the chair accepts the man’s wish to sit down and read his book.

2. Story telling from different points of view

The group is divided into two smaller groups. All together the students tell the story. One group tells the story from the man’s point of view, the other group from the chair’s point of view.

By telling the story, the differing perceptions, feelings, emotions, hopes and angers are revealed. It is possible then to discuss a lot of general aspects of conflicts, starting from the film’s perspective.

3. Plenary discussion

  • When did the conflict in this story start?
  • Why did the conflict start?
  • What other strategies could the man have tried?
  • Why did they find a solution?
  • Is there an intercultural aspect in this story?

Reflection with the students / Questions for debriefing

  • What is a conflict?

Introduce the theoretical background of the Iceberg-model: Which conditions for a visual conflict are lying underneath the surface and are visible at first sight? Which conditions are more important in intercultural situations?

Relate the Iceberg-model to the film „A Chairy Tale“: What do we see in the film, what is under the surface?

  • Is a conflict negative or positive?

Different ways of seeing a conflict: Conflicts are not exclusively negative, they are important to find new ways to solve problems, to getting to know each other.

  • Strategies to deal with conflicts

Discussion of different factors and strategies:

Factors could be time or humour or attitudes like accepting his/her own role in the conflict, separate the problem from the person etc.

Strategies to deal with conflicts are active listening, trying to understand the motivation and the needs of the other(s), being aware of the four sides of a statement (factual information, self-statement, relationship indicator and appeal, according to the well-known “Four-ears-model” elaborated by Friedemann Schulz von Thun) and using “complete messages” or “I”-messages. A summary of the “Four-ears-model” is available in English: Communication model of Schulz von Thun (Academy for Conflict Transformation)

Suggestions for adaptations and variations

Previous to watching the film and the story telling a brainstorming activity on conflict could be carried out (teacher writes the word “conflict” on the blackboard and students spontaneously express their associations to conflict/s).

Reference / original source of the method

Elisabeth Gager used this method in her workshop “Grrr, our partner does not keep our common agreements!” at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2008 in St. Virgil, Austria.

Further tips and resources

DAPHNE (EU programme), method tool Emergency Brake: methods for violence prevention. In this book a variety of methods are presented which deal with conflicts and violence in groups. The methods are grouped along five categories: Emotions, Values, Empowerment, Civil Courage, and Forms of violence.

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