Social Groups and Identity
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Suggested length: 45 minutes
As humans, we tend to seek a sense of belonging in the world by identifying ourselves with one or more social groups. For example, a group of friends, a club, a church, a band, etc. The groups we belong to can exist at very local levels, or can have global reach. Our naturally "group-ish" behavior helps us in countless ways ... we can find friendship, status, skills, safety, fulfillment and many other benefits by joining and participating in social groups. At the same time, our tendency to form into groups can have effects -- whether intentional or not -- that are less positive. When group formation excludes certain people or views, or leads to unhealthy competitive dynamics between groups, the consequences can be risky or harmful for some. In this conversation, you and other participants will explore questions around social groups and identity. By practicing the conversation agreements and sticking to the three-round structure, you’ll reflect on how forming and joining groups can be beneficial (or detrimental) to us as individuals.
Question Round 1: Get to know each other
Suggested length: 15 minutes
Get to know each other a bit by sharing something personal. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:
- How would you describe your town? (e.g. urban, rural, crowded, empty, big, small ...)
- How would you describe your school? (e.g. big, small, public, private, easy, fun, competitive, stressful ...)
- What are your favorite activities or hobbies outside of school?
- What do you want to do after you graduate?
- How would your best friends describe you?
Question Round 2: Listen and share to understand
Suggested length: 20 minutes
Share your views -- and listen openly to others' views -- on the assigned topic, without debating or trying to change anyone's opinion. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:
- What groups do you belong to? Which of these did you personally choose to join? Were any chosen for you?
- Think about a group you belong to, and describe what you like about belonging in this group. What benefits does it provide?
- What groups exist in your school? What are the "formal" groups? What are the "informal" groups?
- Did you ever leave a group because it didn't feel right any more? What was that like for you?
- If you could start any group, what would it be? What would it do?
- Are there groups you avoid or would never join? Why?
Question Round 3: Reflect and share takeaways
Suggested length: 10 minutes
Reflect on -- and share with other participants -- how it felt to join a Mismatch conversation. Each participant should answer one or more of the following questions:
- In one sentence, share what was most valuable to you in this conversation.
- What new learning or appreciation do you have after joining this conversation?
- Have you found common ground or areas of interest that surprised you?
- What is one important thing you thought was accomplished here?
Before starting a conversation, all participants must agree to these conversation agreements.
1. Be Curious and Open to Learning.
Listen to and be open to hearing all points of view. Maintain an attitude of exploration and learning. Conversation is as much about listening as it is about talking.
2. Look for Common Ground and Appreciate Differences.
In this conversation, we look for what we agree on and simply appreciate that we will disagree on some beliefs and opinions.
3. Be Purposeful and to the Point.
Notice if what you are conveying is or is not “on purpose” to the question at hand. Notice if you are making the same point more than once.
4. Show Respect and Suspend Judgment
Human beings tend to judge one another, do your best not to. Setting judgments aside will better enable you to learn from others and help them feel respected and appreciated.
5. Be Authentic and Welcome that from Others.
Share what’s important to you. Speak authentically from your personal and heartfelt experience. Be considerate to others who are doing the same.
6. Own and Guide the Conversation.
Take responsibility for the quality of your participation and the conversation by noticing what’s happening and actively support getting yourself and others back “on purpose” when needed.