The students comment on (negative) statements about volunteering and about being a volunteer. In small teams they summarize comments and present it to the plenary.

Aims and objectives

  • to explore the positive and negative sides of volunteering
  • to discuss opportunities and risks of being a volunteer
  • to overcome some of the misconceptions about volunteering

Materials needed

  • 6 flipchart sheets
  • 6 post-its and one pen for each participant
  • 3 markers
  • 3 working stations with chairs

Preparation

  • Prepare 6 flipchart sheets with one of the statements on each of them (for the statements see 8.2.).
  • The room is set into 3 working stations, each station for one working group (1/3 of the students). 2 flipchart sheets are displayed at the station, each sheet containing one statement. Chairs for 1/3 of students are provided. The arrangement of chairs allows students to circulate between the flipchart sheets.
  • Each participant gets 6 post-its and one pen.

Step by step description

The statements written on the flipchart (one statement for one flipchart) are as follows:

  • Volunteers are unskilled
  • Volunteering takes up so much time
  • Volunteer work is boring
  • Volunteering means the Government does not have to provide services
  • Young people don’t volunteer
  • I don’t have anything to offer
  1. The students are invited to walk around and to read each statement. For each statement they write a comment on a post-it (the first thing that comes to their mind) and stick it on the poster. They continue until they finish for all 6 statements.
  2. The students are encouraged to walk fast between the working stations. When the teachers says “NOW!” they stop and quickly take a seat on a free chair at one of the 3 working stations. In this way 3 groups are formed by the occupants of chairs.
  3. Each of the 3 groups has to read, negotiate and summarize the comments on the 2 flipcharts of their working area. They extract one sentence as their conclusion and write it on the flipchart (with marker). One of the members of each group is assigned to make a plenary presentation of conclusions (alternatively, two members present the conclusions).
  4. All students move from one presentation to the next, where the assigned group members present the conclusions. One example related to a statement:“Volunteers are unskilled”/Remember that Noah´s Ark was built by amateurs while the Titanic was built by experts.

Reflection for the students / questions for debriefing

The participants form a circle with their chairs. Ask them to share their conclusions and thoughts about volunteering using questions such as:

  • What do you think about the statements? Which of them is 100% true? Why?
  • Do you strongly disagree with any of the statements? Why?
  • Have you changed any of your ideas about volunteers and volunteering as a result of the discussion with your colleagues? Which one, and how?
  • How did you feel during the work in small groups? Was the negotiation fair?

Some further questions:

  • Who works as a volunteer currently?
  • Who has volunteered before and who intends to volunteer?
  • What prevents you from volunteering?
  • What kind of voluntary projects would you like to do in your school or community?
  • If you could volunteer for anything tomorrow, anywhere in the world – what would you do?

Suggestions for adaptations and variations

Step 1: Students have 12 post-its each and write one “pro” and one “con” argument related to each statement.

Step 2: The small group summarizes and extracts the most obvious of each category (“pro” and “con”) for each statement. Next steps correspond to the main description.

The activity „Building towers with the help of volunteers“ is suitable for a more in-depth reflection on volunteering.

Reference / original source of the method

The activity was facilitated by Nik Paddison during his workshop „Why Me? Why Not?“ at the aces Academy 2011 in Prague.

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