Got an email from a friend who trains young people a lot. She told me she was planning on doing a fishbowl with her students, and I shared my thoughts:

I don’t do fishbowls anymore, and to be honest, they generally disgust me. The general assumption behind them is that there is particular value to having one group in oberservation mode while another works in front of them. That sets up a false dicotomy between the “actor” and the “audience”, with all kinds of strange expectations and un-natural occurances happening. This is only intensified when the participants are youth and adults, whose relationship already generally takes the form of young people acting while adults passively observe. This pattern repeats during the debrief, when adults share their observations of how the youth actors acted. That is just like schools, where intervention and reaction is the norm, as opposed to prevention and empowerment.

Yeah. Generally I think people use training activities with young people pretty loosely, without thinking about the implications and assumptions behind them. Thought for the day: Check yourself before you wreck your… workshop.

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