By means of a role-play simulation the students explore the situation of socially excluded groups and think about possible strategies to overcome their exclusion.

Aims/objectives

  • to empathize with the situation of socially excluded groups
  • to demonstrate that belonging to a group of marginalized people limits the chances to become successful in whatever field of social life, in most of the cases regardless of the will of the affected people
  • to make students understand that exclusion is created by members of society themselves
  • to identify possible strategies to overcome social exclusion

Material needed

  • Yellow vests (or scarfs, caps) for half of the group
  • Plastic cups
  • Juice

Preparation

Rearrange the classroom according to the needs of the role-play or go to the school courtyard if available.

Step by step description

Step 1: Split up the class into two groups. The members of one group get yellow vests (or scarfs or caps) which they have to wear and are separated from the rest of the participants (as a “segregated settlement”). They are sent out to the corridor or another part of the courtyard, where they should wait together.

Step 2: The remaining group (non-yellow) is informed about the game and get plastic cups. Put some additional cups aside on a table. Call the yellow group to come back.

Step 3: All participants are asked to go to a corner signed “school”. There, everybody who has a cup can receive half a cup of juice. Those who don’t have a cup get nothing. Afterwards the two groups return to their respective “settlements”.

Step 4: After a few minutes call to the second round of “school” and modify the rule – students only receive the same amount of juice as they have left from the previous round. Thus, those who have finished their drinks and yellow-group members who eventually have “stolen” empty cups between the two rounds get no extra juice.

Step 5: Organise a fictive job interview: An employer is selecting candidates according to the amount of juice in their plastic cups. Unless they remove their yellow vests (caps, scarfs), the yellow-group candidates – even those who have some juice – are excluded from the selection process, “because people with yellow vests (caps, scarfs) usually do not have any juice”.

Step 6: Game over! All students come together in a circle. Ask the members of the yellow group to throw away their vests (scarfs, caps) and declare the game to be terminated – all are equal again.

Step 7: Get into a discussion with your students and interpret the role-play in terms of social exclusion, considering diverse resources that were necessary to be successful in the game. The participants needed some kind of material resource (plastic cups), granted through social networks (participation in the privileged group) and situational behaviour (e.g. not to drink the whole juice). The combination of these factors determined each participant’s success in getting a job. Moreover, unless the yellow-group members removed their vests, they had to face discrimination and stereotypes even if they were able to get some juice (because they “stole” a spare cup). This, however, is not possible in real life for members of many stigmatized and discriminated groups.

Step 8: Allow enough time for an intensive in-depth debriefing of the exercise (roles, feelings, reactions…). Pay special attention to the feelings and reactions of sensitive students.

Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing

Set up the rule that whatever is said during the debriefing is not meant as criticism about someone’s reaction during the role-play, but only to analyse stereotypes and social exclusion in our society.

  • How did you feel during the role-play?
  • What did you notice about the behaviour of the participants in the two groups?
  • How was the dynamic in your group?
  • What did you experience as a member of the yellow group?
  • Are there similar situations in real society?
  • Who are the marginalised groups in our country?
  • What could be done in order to overcome social exclusion?

Suggestions for adaptations and variations

As follow-up plan a cooperation game especially if the activity has triggered strong negative feelings among the participants.

If you want to stick to the topic, try out “Talking it out”, a discussion-based activity looking at common misconceptions about particular groups. Students draw on the group´s knowledge to think about possible responses to negative stereotypes found online.

Reference / original source of the method

This activity was facilitated by Marek Hojsík during his workshop „Stigmatized, Excluded, Rejected” at the aces Academy 2010 in Senec, Slovak Republic.

Further tips and resources

Dosta! Enough! Go beyond prejudice, meet the Roma! (campaign of the Council of Europe): http://www.dosta.org/

European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC): http://www.errc.org

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