Week Two: Simulations, role plays, discussion and reading

Becoming an Educationalist is designed to get you exploring what it means to be an emancipatory, creative and inspiring educationalist for the 21st Century

 An educationalist:

  • Helps you think for yourself
  • We are becoming… educationalists (see Deleuze)
  • Over time, through experience, reflection, reflexivity, action research, grounded theory …


This week

Learning is active and interactive, it can happen through talk, writing, thinking, playing, drawing; it can be fast and furious; learning can also be slow and embodied. We will be learning through many different modes on this course and the job of all the participants is to understand what we are doing and why – both here and now as a student – and also for the future as an educationalist: how would you build similar activities into your own practice as an educationalist? 

Embodied learning

Simulations and role plays invite whole-body learning. We will be engaging in several role plays and simulations in the next few weeks to get you thinking about what and who education is for.  The idea is to throw yourself into the simulation, role playing your character with gusto – and then reflecting on your learning both on your own and in the formal de-brief and discussions that will follow. (See http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/subjects/economics/simulations-games-and-role-play.pdf

Simulation#1: The apocalypse is coming: who will you keep in your bunker and why?

World War III has started. You and nine other people find yourselves to be alone together in a Nuclear Bunker. You are probably the last people left on earth.

There are some resources in the bunker – but not enough for all of you to survive for a long time.

If all of you stay, then you will all live only for a maximum of two years.

If three of you wish to survive for many years, seven of you will have to leave … 

In your bunker you have:

  • sewage system
  • water
  • seeds
  • some clothes
  • a few books
  • some medical facilities but no operating material
  • a greenhouse. 

And these ten people:

  • Gay scientist
  • Buddhist priest
  • Married couple who are ‘green’ but childless (one person to speak as couple)
  • Single pregnant woman with a five year old girl
  • Army officer who has mental instability of some sort but is useful nonetheless
  • Elderly woman
  • Disabled man
  • Bisexual lawyer
  • Person who has been long term unemployed
  • Atheist doctor.

 Each person in the group of ten was allocated a character at random and then we had to play our role and argue why we should stay in the bunker…  and why someone else should go. 


  • Did anyone emerge as a leader?  Why? Why not? 
  • How did this influence the choices?
  • Explain why you feel your choices were made.
  • What influenced your decision?
  • What does this tell you about your own values and beliefs?
  • How might this affect you as an Educationalist?

 We discussed leaders and leadership – where leaders:

  • Organise
  • Take responsibility
  • Stay neutral…
  • Or can be very bossy.

If an educationalist is de facto a leader – what sort will you be and why?

Who goes and who stays – you decide

Analysing who was kept in the bunker and who was sacrificed revealed some of our values to us. Whilst most people chose to eject seven or so people to ensure their own survival – some decided that all should remain to take their chances (Kant and the moral imperative). Others formed breakaway groups – deciding that they would leave the bunker and see what happened.  This seemed to show a refreshing anti-authoritarian stance – and an embracing of life as uncertain, enriched by risk and adventure.

Most people ejected the old and infirm, the infertile and the argumentative (the lawyer) – perhaps embracing utilitarian and ‘ends justifies the means’ beliefs.  Some wanted to keep the Buddhist priest – many decided that there was no need for spirituality in their brave new world. Some argued that the doctor and/or the old woman should remain to pass on their knowledge – others decided instead that they could find their knowledge in the books.

So, values emerged that seemed to indicate what we thought it was to be human – but there was no overall agreement about what that was:

  • Be self-sacrificing?
  • Be selfish?
  • Be spiritual?
  • Survive at all costs?
  • Reproduce the species?
  • Nurture resources?
  • Teach others?
  • Gain knowledge?
  • Be adventurous and take risks?

The takeaway questions: So what is being human to you – and how will that impact on your role as an educationalist?

Topic Mediated Dialogue: Thinking through discussion and dialogue

In the seminar this week, thinking and conversation was initially seeded by statements about education or childhood – we then moved on to read about Freire – and to draw all these thoughts together in a brief piece of writing: What is a successful educationalist?


  • Talk: In twos or threes, talk about the topics below in as free and wide ranging a way as possible for twenty minutes.
  • Reflect: After 20-mins: Each person has to draw a representation or a portrait of one person in their group.
  • Whole class plenary: Show and discuss the portraits. Discuss the Topic Mediated Dialogue session.


  • Education is all about fitting in, knowing your place and accepting your lot in life. Some are bred for success, as for the rest; at best education bores us, at worst it teaches us just how valueless we are. 
  • Schools these days are dumbing down the curriculum; no one knows how to spell anymore; no one knows any Maths. It’s a disgrace. 
  • If I had a child I would run away to sea with them and not come back till they were 18. I would never put a child of mine through the English education system with its SATs and tests and League Tables. It’s not human.

Reading Freire

Finally, after a quick reminder of strategies to tackle academic reading:

  • Q: Question: think first – what do I already know on this subject? What do I need from this reading? 
  • O: Overview: your course: read module aims and learning outcomes; read the assignment question: these all tell you why you are reading! 
  • O: Overview: your book, chapter or journal: this will tell you what you are reading! Tips: For a book: author, title, date; chapter headings; index. Chapter/article: introduction/conclusion and first sentence of every paragraph 
  • Q: Question: So – in the light of all that: Why am I reading this, now
  • R: Read the text actively and interactively, marking it up as you go. Tips: Underline, highlight, circle key words or points;  make notes in the margin: who would agree or disagree? What does it remind you of? Where will you use the information? 
  • R: Re-read: your own annotations and marginalia:  now you are ready to make your key word/key point notes! 
  • R: Review your notes: are they any good (are they sourced: author (date) Title location/publisher)? Can you use them? What will you now read or write?

(See Chapter 10 – Burns and Sinfield (2012) Essential study Skills: the complete guide to success at University London; Sage)


… we were asked to read Freire articles in pairs, identifying key points and issues that are relevant both to being a successful educationalist – and a successful student.

Giroux on Freire:


Info-Ed: dialogue, praxis and education:


Some great discussions were had – with people wrestling with their own preconceptions about education, teaching and learning – and their hopes for themselves as emancipatory educationalists of the future. Some left determined to find out how experiments in radical education might work in practice – especially Summerhill: http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/

Essential follow up activities including reading the following:

Blogging: http://ds106.us/handbook/blogging/  

Giroux on Freire: http://www.truth-out.org/archive/item/93016:lessons-to-be-learned-from-paulo-freire-as-education-is-being-taken-over-by-the-mega-rich

Info-Ed: dialogue, praxis and education: http://infed.org/mobi/paulo-freire-dialogue-praxis-and-education/

Lastrefuge: http://lastrefugelmu.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/artmooc-week-four-through-lens-lessons.html

Summerhill – experiments in emancipatory education: http://www.summerhillschool.co.uk/


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