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Lesson Plans
MetaSelf Teaching Kits

Second Teaching Kit:

Large Groups and Gaming


  1. Learning the Basic Model: Ground Rules
  2. Rooting the Model in Context: Getting Ready to Play
  3. Analyzing Conflict/Interaction: Setting up and Playing the Game
  4. Mediating Conflict: Working through How the Game was Played

Step 1

This step involves a thorough examination of the Concrete Organizing Notions (CONs) and their relationship to each other and the Image Schemas (I-S). Please note that the order of collection and sorting can be reversed; that is, while below the collecting is tied to the CONs and the sorting to the I-S, it is clearly possible to have students collect material using the I-S and then sort them into the CONs and analyze those relationships. Follow through on whatever method you think will work best.

1. Collection of Material: The overriding purpose of Step 1 is for students to appreciate the depth and breadth of spatial metaphors and their use in our everyday lives. (These are fundamental building blocks of any approach to cognition and the self that stresses spatial, bodily metaphor. The specific MetaSelf model, which uses the conceptual metaphor of a box-frame and viewer in a room, is a particular way to embody these building blocks.) Since this information may also function as the raw material for later analysis and evaluation work, they might want to carry out focused searches for examples of the CONs and I-S. To approach this crucial first step effectively, we suggest the following hunt strategy:

a) Use each separate CON (vision/light, structure, location, balance and locomotion) as a starting point for collection. In this way, students from the beginning will be alerted to basic categories of spatial metaphors. This will entail either five successive searches by one group (or individual), one for each CON, or five small teams each working simultaneously on a different CON.

b) If you have a longer amount of time for your project, encourage the students to hunt as broadly and inventively as possible, making maximum use of various learning tendencies. Their goal is to locate any relevant example of the CON on which they are focusing.

For example, have auditory-based students search through radio, daily conversation, film and TV soundtracks, singing and song lyrics, joke telling, etc. Also have them stay attuned to how delivery (tone, volume, pitch, word choice, speed, rhythm, timing) can contribute to or detract from meaning. Visual learners can work with images of any sort: written texts, art objects, clothes, colors, magazine and picture books, advertisements, and TV and film scenes. Kinesthetic students can sort through motion- or body-based activities: walking, running, standing, sitting, lying, sleeping, balancing, jumping, dancing, use of physical gesture, senses of physical boundaries, types of physical interaction, etc.

This method allows you to break a larger group into smaller self-selected and self-motivated teams, which is always more efficient and effective for learning. For an individual working alone, it gives direction about how to move through a mass of information in a constructive manner.

c) If your time is too limited to carry out a lengthy search, you are free to have your students focus in on one particular field of information (such as a book, magazine, or film). Feel free to choose from the search areas suggested in b), or to generate ones on your own, whatever produces the best results for your purpose! Just remember to have at least one search area suited for each learning tendency. A film might be useful in this regard since it incorporates sound, images, and physical action; you could therefore have your group break itself into three groups, each collecting examples of the CONs from one area.

You can also have the students brainstorm and free- associate in groups to produce examples for each CON.

2) Sorting and Analysis of Material:

Once this material has been collected in sufficient detail, the students will need to begin to sort it according to the I-S and analyze the relationships that result. (Please refer to the Glossary, where a list of I-S with brief explanations is located.)

There are various ways to approach this activity:

a) Apply the whole list of I-S one-by-one to each group of CON examples and determine quickly which I-S are relevant and which are not to each group. Among those that are relevant, have the students create a ranking of most to least, and then discuss the possible meanings of this scale.

b) Run each I-S separately through each of the five CON example groups and have the students quickly determine whether or not it applies. Once the thirty I-S have been sorted, do as in a) above, creating a relevance ranking and discussing its ramifications.

NOTE: For a) and b), the work can be sped up by dividing it among small teams.

c) Focus in on each CON group and have the students create exact lists of which examples apply to which I-S. What does this tell them about each I-S in that group? To follow up on this activity, you may want them to go out and collect more examples for a particular I-S alone, such as front/back, if the students find they need to know more.

d) Cross-reference which I-S fall under which CONs, and cross-reference examples. Explore these overlapping (or non- overlapping) relationships. Which I-S are most flexible? Which are most narrowly confined? How do examples of a particular I-S cross-over or not cross-over between CONs? What reasons can account for this? What are the relationships that are revealed between certain CONS? For example, an acrobat moving across a tightrope could appear under Locomotion (moving toward/moving away; moving vs. stationary), Location (touching/not touching the wire; on vs. off), and Balance (up vs. down; left vs. right; front vs. back; balance vs. imbalance; above vs. below).

e) What kind of final evaluation can be made about the I-S in general and their relationships to the CONs? Once specific analysis has been carried out, step back and contemplate the overall meaning of identified patterns. It might be useful to have the students produce some kind of graphic or tabular representation of the results of this evaluation, especially since it could prove useful in Step 2.

f) If time is short, your are free to limit the above activities to a particular CON, or to a targeted set of I-S.

Step 2

Using Step 1 as ground rules, your students will get ready to set up and play a game that will help them examine how and why individuals interact, and conflict, in a certain situation. We have used the present tense, but any historical period is open to analysis, as is any person, whether fictional or actual. Various means to these ends are offered below, but since research on the students' part will be necessary, and since processing that research will be unavoidably time-consuming, please feel free to tailor our suggestions into a format that best fits your overall course needs. It may well be that you wish solely to focus on how political (or religious) beliefs affect a group of individuals; it might also be true that you intend just to look at the psychological, or social, or transcendental, aspects of an identity (to name but a few). The usefulness of this step and of the general model is that it provides you with maximum flexibility. You are free to select for (or against) as many factors as you wish, to make your exploration of individual interaction as complex or as focused as you want. Have fun!

1)Seeing Individuals through the CONs:

Since the students should already be acquainted with the general concept and uses of the CONs, the point here is to dive right into applying them specifically to the individuals being analyzed.

START UP: You must clearly state how exactly you want the students to research these individuals. (That is, what specific aspects of the individuals' identity will they be looking at?) To make this initial information gathering as effective as possible, pre-arrange the students into small teams, each of which will be responsible for analyzing one individual. Research work on that individual can then be further broken down within each team, with single persons or pairs of persons investigating separate aspects. We will refer to these key aspects as focus points. For example, in looking at Martin Luther King, Jr. versus Malcom X, an instructor may want to focus on race, class position, attitudes toward gender, religious beliefs, and political views. There would therefore be two smaller groups, each researching five different points. This method will save time, engage each student individually, and will free up class time for focusing on applying the CONs and I-S to the researched information. Of course, what has just been detailed is a suggestion only; the important thing is that you find some way to connect out-of-class research efficiently to in-class work with the model.

a) Ask the students to compile a list of examples for each CON that apply to their focus point on the researched individual. Actively encourage the students to look for examples from the individual him or herself. What in the way he or she wrote, acted, talked, walked, dressed, etc., or what about our general impression of this individual reveals his or her sense of balance, locomotion, etc.? Then have the students rank these examples under each CON from most to least representative, and within the team discuss/analyze what this pattern reveals.

b) Separately or in conjunction with a), have the students work with the following questions:

Locomotion. What kind of motion best represents the way your individual moves with respect to your focus point? (e.g. a bear, a penguin, a skater)? What is good and bad about that? If the individual could move in the way he or she most desires to move with respect to your focus point, what or who would he or she be? Why? (e.g. a bird, a fish, a racecar)

Structure. What shape or arrangement of parts best represents the focus point of your individual? (e.g. a circle, a square, a triangle, a bean bag chair, a skyscraper, a molecule, a web, a fishing net) What is good and bad about that? What might be the ideal shape or arrangement of parts for that focus point in the eyes of the individual? Why?

Balance. What image, person, or thing best represents the sense of balance your focus point gives to your individual? (e.g. a set of scales, a tilted see-saw, a person on top of a bucking bronco) What is good and bad about that? If this individual could have a sense of balance that would be perfect, in their own eyes, for this focus point, what would it be and why?

Location. What place does the individual see the focus point put him or her in, metaphorically or literally? (e.g. in the dumps, on top of a mountain, on a stormy sea in a leaky boat) What is good and bad about that? What place does the individual most desire the focus point could put him or her in, metaphorically or literally? Why?

Vision/Light. What image best represents how the individual looks out onto the world in terms of your focus point? (That is, his or religious or political views might be expressed as a bright sun on a cloudless day, a dark blizzard, or trying to make a left turn at a crowded, blocked intersection.) What is good and bad about that? If you could represent the range of vision that the individual most desires from this focus point, what would it be? Why?

p> separately in each team, and then generally as a class. For each focus point, which CONS are closest to (or farthest away) from the individual's own sense of his or her ideal self? What overall portrait does this paint?

c) Pair up certain CONs and use these as entrances into analysis for each focus point. For example, Locomotion and Location can be turned into -- Where is the individual? How did he or she get there? Where does he or she want to go? How can he or she get there? Another possible combination is Balance and Location: What things throw the individual off balance? How is that related to where he or she stands? Where else would he or she need to stand, or how else should he or she stand in the same place, to regain a sense of balance? You can prepare combination-question sets, or you can provide a model and let the students generate their own.

2) Seeing Individuals through the Image Schemas

Again, once the students have begun to research, have them jump right into working directly with the I-S and how they relate to the focus point of their individual.

a) Let the students look at the Glossary of I-S and, based on their research, select the five which in the eyes or their individual would be most appealing in terms of the focus point. Have them collect examples for each of the five from information gleaned from their research and then analyze what about these particular I-S most attracts their individual. What basic meaning does each of these important I-S have to him or her within the focus point? (e.g. up/down might mean social mobility from a class position viewpoint or spiritual condition from a religious viewpoint) If you wish, each team can form the collective results of this process into a representation that expresses the overall personal meaning of the I-S to the individual; a collage of sounds or images, or a pantomine of gestures and other body uses are just a few examples. That creative work should then be presented to the rest of the class.

This exercise can be modified so that it includes more than five or focuses on as little as one of the I-S. It can also be modified so that it focuses on a certain number of I-S that are least attractive or even repellant to the individual.

b) Let the students search through the Glossary of I-S and locate pairs of I-S which are in basic conflict for the individual in terms of the focus point. (e.g. a Christian might see being to the left and right side of God as clashing.) Of these, which one best represents the conflicts the individual feels in his or her life? Encourage each team to form their analysis into some kind of graphic representation, such as a song, a skit, a drawing, or a collage based around the I-S conflict; this can then be presented to the rest of the class.

The activity can be reversed; the student can search for

I-S that their individual would view as being basically harmonious, and then, from among these, choose the one which best represents what about the focus point of the individual is most unified or reconciled. (e.g. An Aristotelian might see up and down as perfectly balanced in a golden mean). Again, encourage each team to produce some sort of graphic or plastic representation of how the I-S pair symbolizes the individual and present this to the general class.

c) This exercise might be more useful when done as a follow-up to a) and/or b) above. Have the students sort the I-S according to the categories "vulgar and polite." [To use the I-S of up/down as an example, vulgar uses of up include "Up yours!" "giving the finger," and "being up s... creek without a paddle," while a few of the polite uses of up are upscale, uptown, top hat, moving up socially, and the upper/higher functions. As for down, vulgar connotations are almost too many to mention: get down and dirty, urinating and defecating (lower body functions), baser instincts, the bottom/butt. What are the polite uses of down?] Which I-S easily fall into one category alone? Which hover between categories? Once this sorting is done, have the students produce examples of vulgar/polite I-S for their individual. To which category is the individual most drawn in terms of the focus point? Why? Overall, have the team compare these results. What does vulgar and polite mean exactly to the individual?

Step 3

Using work already done in Step 2 as a starting point and working closely with the CONs, your class will set up a game of interaction between their focus individuals. This simulation will help them understand why conflict(s) occured. We suggest you break Step 3 into two parts: 1) Setting Up the Game, in which the students work through the problems of seeing their individuals and their relationships to each other in overall terms; 2) Playing the Game, in which the students transform the results of part 1 into some kind of scenario and play it out. The CON of Vision/Light is purposely omitted from Step 3 as it will be the main focus of Step 4.

Setting up the Game:

1) Setting Up the Individual Players. The students need to take the separate findings arrived at in teams about focus points of the individuals and synthesize them into one plastic, overall representation of each individual. The work already done in this respect in Step 2 can serve as a groundwork. Encourage the students, while doing this activity, to pay close attention to how their individuals relate on all levels to the CONs of Structure, Balance, and Locomotion [Location will be covered below in 2)].

  • What should be their shape or arrangement of parts?

  • What sense of balance should this object have?

  • What apparent sense of motion should it have?

It is important that the students agree on playing a certain kind of game, meaning that all the individual players need to be of the same broad type. Otherwise, it will be difficult to compare a song to a geometrical figure, or a visual collage to a series of gestures. How you reach this decision, be it by instructor fiat, majority vote, or consensus, will depend on your time constraints and the class dynamic.

2) Setting up a Mock Playing Field. Once these objects have been made, the students need next to simulate the interaction situation and place the objects produced in 1) into that space so as to best represent how the individuals relate to each other. The CON of Location will be key here, as will those I-S patterns identified in Step 2 as most relevant to each individual player. In particular, have the students keep the following concerns in mind:

a) How can the space be structured so that it not only takes into consideration but graphically shows all the different levels of interaction? If the focus points of an individual have been social (class position and race), transcendental (religious beliefs), and unconscious (repressed needs and desires), how can the actual playing field itself

be built around these concepts so as to make them both visible and playable? For example, if they use a large box or a room as a mock space (some kind of three-dimensional cube), inside the space could equal social influences, outside and above could represent the transcendental, and outside and underneath could be the unconscious forces. This schema can be toyed with: Which focus points should be placed left or right? To what degree? How far up or down or inside and outside? Should all inside walls and outside spaces have meanings? If so, what? (Once this activity has been completed, it might be useful to label the meaning of the spaces in and around the cube that have been arrived at.) Close attention should be payed to how the focus individuals relate to and understand certain I-S. Remember, this is a game about others and their world views, not necessarily about us and ours.

b) It may be helpful to introduce briefly to the students the concept of the three axes (x, y, and z) as a commonly accepted means to map out a three-dimensional space. Using a simple geometrical object, such as a square or a rectangle, let them experiment with how the CONs of Location, Structure, Balance, and Locomotion all impact each other. By placing a square in a certain space within the x, y, z grid, how does that effect its apparent balance? What kind of locomotion possibilities does it have in that position? How does all that change if the balance or location is changed? How is all that transformed if the object's structure is changed (for instance, to a triangle or to a circle)?

c) Working with the above two activities, have the students then begin to place the representative objects for each focus individual in the mock playing field. Who should go where? Why? For example, while inside/outside will already have a definite meaning for the system (the playing field), what meaning will it have for the individual within the system? In one case, inside/outside might be expressed as introverted/ extroverted; a particular person could have extroverted political views but introverted religious beliefs. How should that individual makeup be expressed by its location within the overall system? How should individuals be placed relative to each other? During the simulation, how should they move around? In other words, where do they begin and end, and how do they move between these two key points?

Playing the Game

All the work done in Part 1 now needs to be translated into some kind of actual gaming situation. The kind you choose will depend on the learning styles of your students and the goals of your class.

a) You can remain with the mock playing field and the representative objects.

b) You can find some appropriate "theater space" and produce a dramatic representation of some sort. If you do this, you might want to incorporate certain staging techniques, such as off-stage disembodied voices or having main characters surrounded by other characters who represent different aspects of their complex self. Some kind of apparatus might be needed to arrange the "ancillary selves" three-dimensionally and appropriately around the "public face." Use of foreground/background space will be an important consideration in this location process, as will up/down and left/right. You might also have the students produce appropriate dialogue, music, props, costuming, masks, etc. Focus groups within teams can be responsible for deciding how exactly an "ancillary self" should appear and act (male/female/genderless, etc.) and the whole class can work out how the "public faces" and "ancillary selves" for each individual should move around (or not) through out the simulation performance. In this regard, an ancillary self might come to dominate the performance, or two ancillary selves might be in constant conflict, or certain aspects of the self might disappear, emerge, or even fade and then reappear. This shifting rearrangement need not be only kinesthetic. To address the auditory dimension, you might have simultaneous speaking and/or use of non-verbal sounds; while working with the visual, you might focus on body movement, costume change or exchange, or use of spotlight.

c) Building on ideas in b), you might turn this dramatic representation into a musical, or a faux oratorio, in which the students alternate singing and speaking (and possibly dancing) in different styles and/or keys to express the interactions in the simulation.

d) You can produce a board game of some type that allows the students to use the individuals as playing pieces and that factors in all the necessary information about how the playing field needs to be structured and how focus points influence players and their movement.

e) Using concepts worked out in Peter Carleton's development of the general model, you could construct a simulation around six levels or dimensions of individual character:

  1. the rational/reasonable self
  2. the personal/public face
  3. manifest feelings
  4. repressed feelings/ideas/wishes/unmet needs
  5. the social system
  6. spiritual beliefs about the universe or greater whole

How these six levels are made into a game is open. You may want to use them as a basis for doing a theatrical piece, as in b) or c); you might also want to make them the central focus of a board game, as in d). Alternately, you could find other means of simulating the conflict situation and the individuals involved in it via these categories. Experiment!

These are just a few examples of how creative and powerful learning can take place. Most vital is that the students actively and thoroughly transform their researched knowledge into a dynamic simulation of a conflict, and that they use the CONs and I-S to aid them in understanding that situation clearly (and as complexly as is necessary for your course goals).

Step 4

Focusing on the CON of Vision/Light, the students will analyze why and how different points of view on a variety of levels lead to the conflicts gamed about in Step 3. Their findings could help them learn how to work towards a win-win resolution of the conflict. One specific activity that might be useful in this regard is the production of conflict and reconciliation objects; the practical consequences of the latter can be tested in further gaming situations.

a) Have the students analyze the gaming process played out in Step 3. Some questions that revolve around the CON of Vision/Light and that might be helpful are:

  • What factors most lead to conflict?
  • Why were these factors so overriding for the individuals involved?
  • How was this directly tied up with how the individuals had different view points, meaning how did an individual's location affect how he or she related to others in different locations?
  • Why exactly were the individuals unable to step outside of their respective points of view and see the situation from another's perspective? If they did have this ability but ignored it, why?
  • What would it require of the individuals involved to achieve this ability of seeing the world from "someone else's shoes" and acting on it? What about their focus points (political views, social code, etc.) would need to change? How would these changes be expressed in the CONs and I-S?

b) Using the last set of questions as a beginning, you could have the students create a "reconciliation object." We mean by this an object which represents a point of view from which all parties' perspectives can be arranged into a win-win situation. As preparation, ask them to synthesize the results of the gaming into a single "conflict object" that typifies why all individuals involved could not interact peacefully due to their differing viewpoints. (You might stress how this was caused by the arrangement, the sense of balance and relative mobility between these individuals and all aspects of their selves that came into play.) Then, have them discuss how this general situation needs to be altered so that conflict could be handled more constructively. The results of this problem- solving should be worked up into a matching "reconciliation object" that typifies the rearrangement of parts necessary to achieve more cooperative interaction.

c) To test out this solution, you could have the students restage the game of Step 3, but this time incorporating all of the suggested changes.

  • How well does this problem solution actually work when acted out?
  • For solutions that are too ideal, what aspects nonetheless still help to lessen conflict? What problems remain intractable? Why is this the case? Is there anything that can be done about this?

If time permits, additional changes and solutions can be created, tested, and revised. The students might even produce a whole gamut of "reconciliation objects," from the most to the least ideal, and discuss the relative practical merits and demerits of this range.