Wednesday, 27 February 2019

What does it feel like to lose your place?

This week in Matariki/Māhutonga we took our 'Where we dance' inquiry to the next stage. After starting off the year thinking about what places are special to us, we have now turned our attention to situations where people might be forced to leave their place or share their places with outsiders.

Bobs in front, Bibs in back

Using a mixture of adventure based learning and drama, we placed our learners in a type of social experiment. For the session there were two distinct groups. The Bibs (named for their additional clothing) were a smaller group who controlled the area under the playground and the "money" (flat cones). The more populous group of Bobs resided in middle court where they controlled the all-important resource - water.

The first phase of the game involved trade. As the Bobs were struggling with the logistical nightmare of transporting water downhill in not-so-fit-for-purpose containers, Bibs were doing the sums and calculating the price they were willing to pay for it. While some Bobs felt they weren't getting a fair deal, most were able to make some profit and felt quite content.
First trade contact

"We had so much water, we didn't know what to do with it" - Cruz

"I traded a whole bucket of water and got nothing!" - Matthias

Unfortunately for the Bobs, all good things come to an end. A sudden drought meant the taps went off and the trading arrangements literally dried up. Drought eventually led to destruction, and the Bobs found themselves detained in a small fraction of the space they had before. Bobs had a chance to buy passage to a safer land - Bibland - but there was no guarantee that they or their whānau would successfully make this treacherous journey over and around the playground. Bobs that were unable to negotiate passage were left with no place and no rights.

Bob detainment camp

"When we were detained I knew we had to get out quickly" - Chris

"They had more money AND water than us, but they still didn't let us in!" - Raffy

"If we were real refugees, would they have been so mean to us?" - Greta

The dangerous journey to.... freedom?

"I felt awful when we didn't have enough money to take our whole family. We lost our identity. Next time I'd save some of the water" - Megan

"It was a fun game but I wish we could play again so I could play a less selfish character" - Gina

"What if that was real life? Now I know we should think carefully about how we treat refugees" - Pippa

"I was a Bib but when we weren't letting them in I felt bad because I realised this is what happens in real life" - Mae A

As this was happening, the Bibs were being faced with another dilemma altogether. How did they feel about Bobs coming to inhabit their special place? What role could Bobs fulfil in Bibland? Were there even enough resources to go around?

"Holding on to the rope was hard! I was confused about my job when I got to Bibland" - Taiga

In carrying out this social experiment game, we were able to start weaving together the threads of what we've looked at in inquiry so far this year - special places, places to dream, tūrangawaewae - with real-life situations faced by people around the world. What does it feel like to lose your place? How can we help those who have lost their place? What attitudes do we have towards sharing our places with outsiders?

What similarities can you see between our game and real-life?