Development of empathic behavior at school
In MY ENEMY MY WAR participants work together sitting in a circle and face to face. Before starting, a facilitator explains the aim of the activity that is to get in touch with personal emotions and share them with other students. The facilitator should give no previous lesson about self-awareness and empathy since participants have to feel their meaning through their own interpretation. At the end of the activity participants share their experiences talking to each other and writing a short text.
MY ENEMY MY WAR is designed to stimulate empathy and emotional intelligence. It is possible to increase its impact through photographs and videos.
• Self-awareness and group awareness
• Increase self-confidence and towards the group
• Strengthen the group
• Building positive relationships
• Growth of empathy
2. The students watch a short part of the movie “Inside out” and then they talk about their relationship with emotions.
3. The students work all together.
4. The exercise takes place through verbal communication.
5. The facilitator places the students on the floor, sitting in circle, facing each other. He/she introduces the dynamics of the exercise creating, at the same time, a relaxed atmosphere of trust, openness and sharing.
6. The topics are "Dreams" and "Fears": in "Dreams" we will identify the force that pushes us to act or to go forward, in "Fears" we will identify the force that holds us back or stops us. It would be advisable for the leader not to explain the subject in a straight way, but to help the children to formulate and understand it together.
7. Once these topics introduced, we will draw a weight scale on a single sheet of paper: just a simple straight horizontal line balanced by a triangle placed under its half. On one end we will write the word "Dreams" and on the other the word "Fear". After showing it to the students, we will place the paper on a table in any area of the room where the group is working, that allows everyone to write without being seen by the others. After that the facilitator starts the central part of the exercise by asking the students two questions: “What's your enemy?” What's your war? Examples of answers: “My enemy is me ... my shyness ... the judgment of others.” “My war is against indifference ... against the frantic rhythms of modern life”. All the answers are encouraged. After having answered, each student gets up, goes to the paper with the scale and decides where to put his "pebble" (a simple "X"). Beside the word "Fear" if he thinks he is a person whose worries stop his own desires or above the word "Dreams" if he/she thinks he is a person who goes beyond his own fears.
8. At the end students write a short text regarding their impressions about this activity.
At first, after the invitation to speak about themselves, a lot of them were embarrassed and it was obvious because of their giggles or silence.
For most of them it was hard to speak in public. At the end of the activity students wrote a short description of the activity.