Using pictures of different people the students write down their first impression. In the following discussion they learn more about “prejudices” and “cultural backgrounds” and their interrelation.
- to compare how people differ in their initial impressions of others
- to find out how our previous experiences and our cultural background influence the creation of our opinions about others
- to learn about prejudices in general
- Collect pictures from magazines or brochures of people who look interesting/very different/provocative/belonging to a minority. Avoid choosing pictures of famous people.
- Cut out the faces and stick them at the top of a sheet of paper leaving plenty of space underneath.
- Prepare one sheet per participant. If the group is very big you might think of dividing the participants into smaller groups. In this case prepare the same pictures for each group.
Step by step description
- Hand out one sheet to each person/group.
- Ask the students to have a look at the picture and write down their first impression of the person at the bottom of the page.
- Then the bottom of the page should be folded in a way that the others cannot read the comment.
- The pictures are passed on in a circle until all participants/groups have written down their comments on every sheet.
- In the end all papers are unfolded and the first impressions are read out and compared.
Reflection with the students / questions for debriefing
The students come together in order to talk about what happened and what they learnt:
- Were there any surprises while listening to the different comments?
- Why are the impressions different?
- What did you base your first impressions on?
- What does this activity reveal about us?
- Do you see any connection to our origin, our life experience and our cultural background?
- What are prejudices?
- Which conclusions do you take home?
Suggestions for adaptations and variations
Let the pictures move fairly quickly, don’t let the participants think for too long. It’s their first impressions that are important for the activity.
Allow enough time for a discussion. Pay attention that the participants don’t criticise the impressions of others. The discussion should focus on the different backgrounds of the development of prejudices. According to the life experience of the participants, or if the group is very homogeneous, come up with some different views.
If you have a large group you could copy the pictures onto an overhead transparency and project them on a screen. Ask each participant to write down their first impression on a numbered sheet of paper. Collect the sheets after each round and read them out after having shown all pictures.
Reference / original source
Barbara Sieberth used this method in her workshop "The fruit salad and me" at the aces Kick-Off Meeting 2008 in St. Virgil (Salzburg), Austria. The activity was originally published in the Education Pack "all different - all equal" issued by the Council of Europe in 2004.