Forum and action for schools

These activities are designed to work with classes in order to improve microclimate in schools. Very often children in the same call spend a lot of time together, but don’t know each other very well, have no idea what their friends are thinking or feeling. This forms the basis for bullying and discrimination – it is always easier to reject or humiliate someone we don’t know and therefore feel free to project various negative traits on them. These activities develop skills of empathy, helps to understand ourselves and others better, teaches how to express our opinion with respect and how to listen to others. They also give an opportunity to work as a group, to name the most important social problems in the close environment and to search for the ways to solve them and to try out these possible solutions in practice.

This module is designed for school communities. It is recommended to work with separate classes:

Training for Leaders – for teachers, specialists and youth leaders (active pupils). Participants get acquainted with “Theatre of the Oppressed” (TO) system of methods  and can use the skills later in continuous work with classes in schools.

Help of professionals from MMN – specialists of our organisation are invited to work  directly with classes – as a prevention or intervention if difficult social situations (bullying, discrimination, violence, etc.) are already happening.

Helps to experience and to reflect upon:

  • DIALOGUE – the basis of any interaction
  • TOLERANCE for those who differ from me
  • RESPECT for all the groups, despite their age, gender, orientation…
  • EMPATHY – the best tool to understand yourself and others

Study of Social and Emotional Difficulties. Anonymous questionnaire evaluates social and emotional difficulties and other issues relevant to the group. Possible areas of evaluation: attitudes towards vulnerable groups, tolerance, level of acceptance, emotional atmosphere in school/work/other group (emotional security, experience of bullying, oppression, etc.), values, motivation to study/work, priorities in life, models of communication in the environment, main difficulties, expectations, personal responsibility for changes.

This study helps to prepare for the activities and to work with the most relevant topics. As this is an anonymous questionnaire usually responses are open and sincere and in the course of further activities it is easier to concentrate on the most important themes.  .  

This is a separate part of the activities. We are using it to prepare for the Forum theatre performances. This exercise “awakens” feelings of the participants and encourages to think about the attitudes they have, teaches to express opinion clearly and with respect, without the devaluation of the other. It is important to express our opinion, but equally important – to listen to the other and to be flexible, not stuck to your preconceptions. 

Leaflets are scattered on the floor: “Completely agree”, “Agree”, “Maybe agree”, “Maybe disagree”, “Disagree”, “Completely disagree” (or similar). Participants listen to various statements and find their position in the room near the leaflet which reflects their opinion best. Moderator asks participants to say a few words about their choice. Golden rule of the game is to start every answer with the words “I think”, as there are no universally right or wrong opinions. Other participants have to listen in silence even if they disagree completely. It gives opportunity to hear the opinion and arguments which in real life would be dismissed before even hearing them. This exercise also helps to see the dominating values of the group, level of tolerance, possible areas of discrimination – all this information later is used in the creating Forum theatre performances. It is possible to include statements about the environment, to understand better how different members see and evaluate the situation (for example, prevalence of bullying in the school).

Examples of statements for Exploration of Values: 

  • Behaviour problems means that these children/people are bad
  • I want people of the same gender to have the possibility to get married
  • I hate homeless people –  they spoil the view of the city
  • There is no bullying in my school

There can be much more statements, usually this exercise is very encouraging to move on to serious topics, to prepare for the creation of the Forum theater on important topics. 

These statements are provocative in order to make people feel and to want to defend their position, to fight for it. It leads to the deeper involvement in the creation of Forum theatre performances. This exercise fosters social competences – teaches how to talk firmly, confidently and respectfully and to listen to others. On the emotional level it teaches us to withstand and process difficult emotions, which come to the surface when conflicting opinions on important issues are expressed. It also fosters psychological resistance, to be brave in expressing our opinion and defending our values, to stay in contact with others despite various contradictions. 

4 hours to 2 full days. Agreed in advance according to objectives and possibilities.

This module can be applied to:

  1. To bring the team together and to strengthen it
  2. To improve psychological atmosphere in school or class
  3. To improve communication between pupils, teachers and parents
  4. To enhance self esteem
  5. For education about human rights, respect and tolerance.
  6. To strengthen the community

In the beginning anonymous questionnaire is filled in by participants of wider community in order to understand the main problems and strengths of the community and to prepare for further activities.

Moderators/specialists of Forum theatre can be invited to work with specific class with specific theme (bullying, violence, discrimination, etc.). Various games and exercises of “Theatre of the Oppressed” (TO) are used in order to create a good atmosphere and prepare for activities. During Exploration of Values participants learn to talk openly, to express their opinion and to listen to others with respect. It is recommended to continue using this exercise in classes – it changes the communication and atmosphere. Later participants are invited to try out Image Theatre and Forum Theatre. Image theatre helps to understand what we feel and communicate to others in non-verbal ways. Forum theatre is a social theatre. We transfer our everyday situations onto the stage, learn to notice them, to give them names, to find out what position we take in these situations in our everyday lives – do we usually become victims? Or maybe we are the ones who oppress others? And maybe we pretend not to see what is happening around us? Forum theatre helps to empathize with the feelings of all the participants of difficult social situations. We start feeling more empathy for those who suffer and gain more courage to defend them.

We always invite teachers to participate – it is a rare opportunity to see children from different angle, encourages to cooperate with them instead of fighting. All the methods and games can be used by teachers in the ongoing educational process.

There is a possibility to work not with specific class, but with teachers, specialists and youth leaders (active pupils). They are trained to use the methods by themselves. Training is also based on personal experience – participants try all the exercises and methods by themselves. It is possible to present the Forum theatre performance, created by participants, to the wider audience – for example, school community in some public event. It would encourage members of this community to start thinking about social problems and to start reacting to them.

In the end, according to the agreement, specialists of MMN can prepare feedback and recommendations for further use of the methods.

All the activities are fun and interactive, it suits perfectly for various events, workshops, camps. Besides that it gives opportunity to reflect upon social problems and to search for creative ways to start solving them.

After the activities – organizers can prepare feedback and recommendations for further use of the methods.

Preliminary plan of the activities:

  • Circle: getting acquainted, reflection on feelings and expectations
  • Basic rules for working together
  • Exercises and games for the preparation of the activities
  • Exploration of Values
  • Open discussion in the circle: “Dare to be happy”
  • Image theatre
  • Work in small groups
  • Forum theatre – discussion in small groups, creation of the performance, presentation to the rest of the group, discussions, search for solutions.
  • Reflection

Ordering of this service

1. Filling the form

2. Preparation of anonymous questionnaire in order to make an individual plan of the activities

3. Agreement on technical conditions (premises, materials, catering, division of groups)

4. A schedule of activities and course of classes is prepared

"Forum theatre is a mirror which we can penetrate to modify our image."
A. Boal