This is my first post describing a fun family activity. I’d like this to be the first of many such posts and hope that I can build a library of fun things families can do together that I and others can turn to if we’re stuck for inspiration.
This post describes an activity that my son Arthur taught us after attending a Debate Mate club at his school. The original activity is called “Where do you stand?” Arthur adapted this to be a game 3 people can play on a trampoline and called it “Where do you bounce?”
Basically, this is an activity to get you thinking deeply about issues and to help you learn how to argue your case effectively. It goes like this:
- Player A makes a statement that could be agreed or disagreed with. Arthur said “Climate change is the worst problem we face.”
- One side of the trampoline (or room if you’re not on a trampoline) is “agree” and the other side is “disagree”. Each player thinks about how far they agree or disagree with the statement and bounces at the point on the trampoline that represents that viewpoint. e.g. if you can’t decide you’d bounce in the middle. If you 100% disagree you’d bounce right at the edge of the trampoline on the disagree side. If you think it’s almost the worst problem we face, you’d bounce almost at the edge of the trampoline on the agree side.
- Player A starts by explaining why they’re bouncing where they are – i.e. what they think about the statement and why. They then throw a ball (or whatever other suitable object you have to hand) to player B. Player B then explains why they’re standing (or bouncing) where they are. They then throw the ball to Player C. And so on for however many players you have.
- If you like, player A can then decide which player’s argument was most convincing and then that player can take the ball and take on player A’s role and come up with a new statement for the next round. Alternatively, perhaps depending on the temperament of your players, you may prefer not to make any judgements and simply to take turns coming up with a statement. After all, the purpose of the game is really about learning to argue a case rather than deciding who’s right.
We had a lot of fun doing this and it really got us thinking and talking about a wide range of subjects that we wouldn’t normally have talked about together. We played it with one adult, a 12 yr old and a 9 yr old. The statements we considered included:
“The universe is infinite.”
“The main purpose of life is to be happy.”
“Everyone should get paid the same for the work they do.”
I hope you enjoy playing this. I’d love to hear what interesting questions you find yourselves debating and how you get on with groups of different ages or different numbers of people.