SkillsAct4Vet – Training

Module 1 - Before the mobility

Exercise 2

Understanding and appreciating uniqueness

Materials needed

A bag and different stones (of equal size but different in color or shape). One stone for each student and one stone for the teacher.

Estimated time needed

30 min.

Description and guidelines

The teacher first selects one stone. She/he comes up with a short story about the selected stone. Holding up the stone for everyone to see, the teacher starts the story as follows: “I hold this stone. I don’t really know anything about it. I don’t think that I have ever thought much about stones anyway. Stones are stones. They are just there and we rather take them for granted, right? They are alike. Some are bigger, some smaller, with different colors, but after all they are just stones. Could be same as with people”.

Then the teacher passes the bag with stones and asks students to pick one each. The teacher prompts students to carefully examine their stones for a couple of minutes. They should observe what they look like, their marks, colour, tough or smooth surface. They should, metaphorically, become friends with their stones and prepare a short story to introduce their “friends” to the class.

The teacher asks some or, ideally, all the students to tell their stories. When they’ve finished, the teacher asks the students to put the stones back in the bag. Once the stones are back in the bag, the teacher tells the students to think about the following question: “Do you agree that all stones are the same? Why or why not?”. Then, the stones are rolled out on a table. Students are asked to pick out their stone “friends” again. The teacher says: “In a way, stones are like people. Sometimes we put all the people in one ‘box’. We lump people from some groups all together. But when we say that these people are all alike, and we mean it, maybe it’s because we haven’t tried to get to know them better. When we do this, we usually see the uniqueness of every person. Each of us is special and different in a their own way, just like these stones”.

Assessment and discussion

The exercise with stones should be used in the form of a parable or allegory. After the exercise, students should be asked to think about groups of people that we tend to put together under one “label”. The students should draw from own experience or knowledge. The teacher can help by suggesting some groups as for example:

Kids at school

People of certain religions

People from a racial or ethnic group or with given nationality

People who live in the country or in the city

All of the boys and all of the girls

All elderly people

All parents

Certain professionals (e.g. teachers, taxi-drivers, doctors etc.)

Teacher should drive a discussion around the following indicative questions:

  1. When we put all the people from a group together in one “box”, assuming they have the same characteristics, what are we actually doing? What is this called?
  2. Do you know from your experience people from the groups above that have been lumped together? Do you think that they all fit the “label” we have put on them?
  3. Why is such an attitude dangerous and how is it creating barriers in communication and collaboration?

Concluding the discussion, the teacher can show the class this short video about “Difference”. The video has simple language in English with subtitles. The teacher should use the short story as demonstrated to further discuss the benefits of understanding and embracing differences, as opposed to coming up with uninformed, fast and superficial judgements about the others.