Serious People, Funny Stories!!!

The Scheme:

The workshop introduces a sustainable issue without any introduction accompanied by an image and piece of music. The students are divided into small groups have given a piece of paper to come with a story inspired by the photo and the music. For this unit, the following poster provided to them. [iceberg photo that is a floating plastic bag]. The photo is a recognisable image yet by paying attention to details, and it shows that this is not an iceberg but a floating plastic bag. The music is instrumental and primarily to distract the students from their daily hobbies. They have been asked to write a short story with at least two characters. The story should have a beginning, an end and the transition between the two in the middle. After 15 minutes, new pieces of papers are handed to the students. The new papers are designed persona (character) development sheets. [Image] They are asked to fill the sheets and develop their characters in 15-20 minutes. In the end, the facilitator asks each group to explain the story they have written and to introduce their characters.

Reference Image

Reference Image

At this point facilitator presents a new topic via a question such as ‘how many of your characters are gay?’, ‘who has got a woman protagonist?’ or ‘do we have any transgender characters?’. To answer those questions, a discussion opens up within groups that how this can relate to the story, they have written as the reference image and music would not have any connections to the newly generated questions. The facilitator briefly explains the matter of responsibilities and how we are unconsciously moving towards white-male protagonists. The outcome of the questions initiates a series of debate related to equality and equity in which students discuss the issue in their perspective. At this stage, the role of the facilitator is chairing the debate for 20 minutes. In the end, the lecturer can conclude the debate by mentioning that the different concepts can be related and it does not matter if we only focus on our main plot, but we equally can develop sub-plots that relate to different cultural concepts. Finally, they are asked to redevelop the stories to accommodate more than one sustainable concepts.

The Story

The story


Example Character Development

Example: Character Development (Persona Sheet)

By designing this workshop, I hoped to come with a technique that can be used in my teaching to develop more understanding of the sustainable issues within the cohort while they are directly engaged with the topic to develop the relation between their personal experiences and the topic of discussion. The seminar on three pillars model grabbed my attention as I had a personal problem with the structure, yet, I could not disagree with it. Considering that we do not need to have pre-defined pillars for our analysis evoked my brain to consider personal involvement with the topic when designing the workshop. On the other hand, the second seminar in which applying different methods to discuss the sustainability created a great motivation in designing this workshop. Playfulness, as the primary skill for creative development of ideas, became essential to analyse the complicated topics. Hence, it becomes a priority to design a workshop which allows the cohort playfully discuss the ideas when producing something new [story]. After presenting the workshop, the feedback received was overwhelming. Both AUB students and UAL cohort expressed that the workshop allowed them to develop debates in which they would not consider happening at the beginning, and they have acknowledged the point of the workshop and the method of the delivery. I was aware that it required a better introduction as the cohort are not necessarily familiar with story structure, but, they have managed to develop some exciting stories, and the debate took off quickly between the students. I’m going to facilitate similar workshops in the future by knowing that it requires some more thoughts on engaging new sustainability discussions. It grows crucial for the students to be aware of such issues even if they want to develop the stories that are not necessarily related. This can be a solution to ‘the problem’ introduced at the beginning as it gives the opportunity to the cohort to have first-hand experiences in relation to the Sustainability Issues while developing their skills in storytelling. This approach is personal and as discussed, it allows the individual audience to get involved directly and based on their personal experiences.

Serious People

Serious People

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