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Humanising Language Teaching
Year 2; Issue 4; July 2000

An Old Exercise

Values Clarification Activities

In the aftermath to the savage war of exfoliation, extirpation and extermination ( Mai Lai..etc…) that the US waged across South East Asia through the sixties and early seventies of the last century, liberal educators in George Washington Land brought in a new way of getting teenagers to study ethics and philosophy. This was called Values Clarification. Instead of the teacher telling people what their values were or should be, the Values Clarification people offered the kids practical exercises in which they themselves found out more about where they really stood on ethical and philosophical issues. When Lou Spaventa and Carlos Maeztu from The Experiment in International Living, Brattelboro,Vermont, first brought these exercises to Pilgrims, Canterbury, UK in the late seventies.

I was amazed. I had been brought up as a Roman Catholic and had always been told what to believe. The exercises were very interesting in their own right but the surprise came when I used them in language classes: I had never before witnessed this level of passionate discussion. But where have all the Values Clarification exercises gone? Fredericke Klippel got a few into her 1984 CUP book Keep Talking, that is, I think, the only place you will still find them in the EFL literature. Yet in his 1977 Advanced Values Clarification (published with University Associates)

Howard Kirschenbaum, offers an annotated bibliography of 185 titles in this area written between the mid-sixties start of the Vietnam War and the mid seventies American defeat.

Today we talk about Multiple Intelligences and NLP and and…..but are not the brilliant discussion activities of the 70's still brilliant?

Here are some tastes:

People I need

Underline the people you think are important for you from the list below.
Then number the ones underlined in order of importance:
Work in 4 to discuss your rankings and their reasons.

Armed forces - fathers - Secret Services - car mechanics - firemen - bakers - electricians - fishermen - forest rangers - bronco busters - brothers - foster parents - farmers - carpenters - garbage collectors - cowboys - clerks - petrol station attendants - aunts - churches - grandmas - colleges - dentists - courts - pilots - cousins - hotels - doctors - kindergartens - psychologists - relatives - uncles politicians - musicians - parents - plumbers - police - meter readers - lawyers - sisters - scientists - miners - tailors - priests - Red Cross - map makers - restaurant owners.

This exercise is taken from Beginning Values Clarification, Sydney B. Simon and Jay Clark Pennant Press, 1975 ( Amazon. com claims to be able to locate out-of-print books )

90 second Funeral Oration

The students write their names on bits of paper, fold them over and put them in a bag. Each student takes a name, not their own.

Give the class 10 minutes to prepare a 90 second funeral oration for the person whose name they got.

Each person delivers their funeral oration.

( The first time I used this exercise with a late teenage, mostly male class, we ran over 20 minutes into the lunchbreak. The group was creased with laughter especially when an Italian lad read his obituary for "Petrodollars". The Saudi student was totally on board. )

One minute biographies

The students work in groups of 3 or 4 and prepare to mention the high points in their lives.

The first student tells the group the class his one minute autobiography. The others are then invited to share what came up for them as they listened to the biographer.

The next person tells the group his one minute life story…. Etc….

It is fine if people who do not want to do the minute opt out, but at the performance stage, not at the preparatory phase.

There may be older HLT readers who remember V. clarification activities they used successfully back in the Dark Ages. Send them in so that the 600 people who visit the mag each week can have a look at them.

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