Activity: Needing Others?

The aim of this activity is to examine the individual’s need for others in a variety of spheres of human activity.

    TECHNICAL NOTE: By definition, most of this activity is carried out by each individual alone. It is best to isolate the students from each other as much as possible during the first part of the activity. If this can only be done in the classroom, then the chairs should be arranged so that no individual is right next to somebody else. People should be seated facing in different directions so as to minimize contact. Ideally, you should conduct the activity in a large hall or outside, so that there is maximum possibility of isolation. In order to help the participants cut off from each other, it may be useful to play soft background music and, perhaps, darken the room.

  • Give the participants the following scenario. As a result of some kind of freak accident, the participants find themselves alone on a desert island: there are no other inhabitants. There are fruit trees, rivers and plenty of wood. There are no caves. The climate is pleasant. They have a few minutes to imagine this.
  • After a few minutes, given them pen and paper. Their first task is to create some kind of timetable of their activities for the first twenty-four hours. They must think very carefully about what they are going to need at all times of the day, and must plan accordingly. Emphasize that clear thinking and good planning may be the key to survival or, at least, to high-quality survival. They are themselves: that is to say, they are equipped with whatever individual talents, abilities and limitations they really possess; they must take these into account when planning their first day and night. Give them about ten minutes for this first task.
  • Their second task is to plan their second day. They have about six minutes for this. If they have not finished their first day by the time that the second task is given, they must complete the first day before planning the second.
  • Give them up to five more days to plan. They should plan each day in a shorter time, in order to increase the pressure on them. The assumption is that, with each day, more of the fundamental problems will be solved - at least temporarily. With your constant reminders about the need to plan for future contingencies, they will gradually be moving over to long-term planning. Furthermore, from day three onward, you should tell them about new problems that they will be facing. For example, prior to day three, they may be told that the weather has grown much colder. Now add new problems such as high winds; torrential rain; the noise of wild animals in the night; monkeys raid the food store (if they have one) and take all the food.
  • After the last day is finished, ask them to summarize their situation after the first X number of days. What have they achieved and what have they failed to achieve? What are the biggest problems and challenges? Which, if any, problems seem to be insurmountable? What did they find most difficult? In this part of the exercise, they should concentrate on their material situation rather than their emotional state, although it may be difficult to separate the two completely.
  • When they have finished this, ask them to write another document, consisting of three diary entries recording their feelings, as accurately as possible, during their first hours on the island, after the first two days, and at the end of the last day surveyed in the exercise. In the diary, they should relate more to their emotional and psychological state than their material situation, although it may be difficult to separate the two completely.
  • Now bring the group back together and discuss the two sides, the material and the psychological-emotional, separately. Ask the participants to share their experiences and feelings on the island. As the discussion progresses, you, the educator, should list on the board the various problems that the participants raise.
  • On the basis of this list, the final part of the discussion should revolve about the question of our limitations as individuals and our need for others. How many of the problems could have been lessened, if not solved, by the presence of a whole group of other people? Would there have been other problems? In the last analysis, do we fare better in community or in isolation? What are the pros and cons of both?



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07 Dec 2006 / 16 Kislev 5767 0