The Statements Debate
No hate speech
− To stimulate different points of view, regarding the same subject
− To encourage the debate, in an analytical way, to express point of views and opinions
− To address questions of identity, racism and xenophobia
In the end of the session the participants will be able to discuss opinions and to present a critical thought about the debated subjects.
Number of participants: 12 – 30 people
(1 - very easy, 5 - very difficult)
Degree of expertise needed - 2
The amount of work to prepare and implement the scenario - 2
Relative overall cost predicted - 1
Empty room with capacity for 30 persons
Board or flipchart and markers
Paper strips (for writing the statements)
A bag or a box for the statements
The facilitator asks the participants to collect at least 4 opinions, statements or judgements about migrants, asylum seekers and refugees from Media, Social Networks or from the community where they live, or even their own opinions (preferably they vary from conservative to progressive).
The facilitator prepares also a list of statements (Annex 1).
Each new opinion expressed by a participant, in the debate, can also be used as a new ‘statement’. The statements must be written in the first person (“I”), as well as all the answers during the debates.
The suggested statements should be written in paper stripes (one per paper) and placed in a box.
The facilitator presents the aims of the session and explain how it is structured.
The debate (45 min)
At the beginning everyone is in the middle of the room (the neutral zone).
The facilitator takes a statement from the box and reads it. Then the participants divide into two groups: those who agree with the affirmation and those who disagree (each group moves to opposite ends of the room). Participants can only agree or disagree: without "if" and "but". They have to react immediately and choose a point of view.
Everyone interprets the statement personally. No explanations given.
When all participants have chosen a group, a discussion should be initiated - the minority group speaks first. Participants should argue their points of view individually. The other group should react spontaneously. When the minority group has just presented its arguments, the majority group can then explain their points of view in the same way.
Two reporters are assigned to each minority and majority group (previously chosen, on a voluntary basis).
During the various debates, these reporters should note on the table key expressions, images and keywords used to support an argument.
There should also be a moderator (self-proposed previously, on a voluntary basis) or, alternatively, the facilitator acts as moderator of the discussions. The moderator should enforce the order of the speeches, the tone of voice (avoid criticism, personal accusations and offensive tone), the times, and maintain cordiality.
There are some critical aspects (“rules”) to be taken into account:
− There are no "right" or "wrong" answers. The exercise is about opinions.
− Personal and group inquiries and critical thinking.
− Participants are allowed to change their minds after or even during the debate, but only if they explain why they changed their minds, always using first-person answers. In case of they change their opinion they join the other group, moving to the other side of the room.
− In exposing a case, a participant can only speak from the personal point of view: "I suppose.."; "I guess ..."; "I think…"; "I know...".
− The moderator (participant who assumes this role or the facilitator) keeps the discussion in a cordial tone, respecting the orders and times of the speeches of each group and should maintain a neutral position.
− Questions and observations should be used to stimulate the discussion and help it flow: for example "How do you know?", "What do you mean by?", "If I understand correctly...", " It is not a contradiction..." etc.
To conclude the reporters present their observations.
For the debriefing the facilitator can start by using the notes from the reporters to highlight contradictions, similarities and differences, expressed by the participants.
He/she should instigate the participants to look in a critical way, to the points of view they expressed in the debates.
Examples of questions to be asked to the participants:
− Were during the debates any aspects that you noticed and want to refer?
− Did your opinion change during a debate?
− Did you find a different way of thinking?
− Did the ‘statements’ offended some one? / Were any statement offensive?
− Did you stand by the majority side? If Not (or if Yes) did it bore you?
− Did you behave more emotionally or more rationally, when you express your arguments?
− Attendance list
− Evaluation method: The 5 fingers of a hand:
- Thumb - what I considered cool?
- Forefinger: what I point out (for good or for bad)?
- Middle finger: what I considered bad?
- Ring finger: my relation with the group of participants?
- Little finger: what was not enough?
IOM/UNHCR, 2009. Manual do Professor “Não são apenas Números”, Jogo de Ferramentas Educacional sobre Migração e Asilo na Europa.
Ideas for action
1. The duration of the Pros and Cons debates depend on the number of the statements to be discussed. The facilitator can prepare more statements for longer time.
2. The participants can produce a report (individually or working in groups) about one of the statements presenting the pros and cons. This task can be done in a different session or as homework.
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