MetaSelf Teaching Kits
Second Teaching Kit:
Large Groups and Gaming
- Learning the Basic Model: Ground Rules
- Rooting the Model in Context: Getting Ready to Play
- Analyzing Conflict/Interaction: Setting up and Playing the Game
- Mediating Conflict: Working through How the Game was Played
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.
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:
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?
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?
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
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
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
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?
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
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
- the rational/reasonable self
- the personal/public face
- manifest feelings
- repressed feelings/ideas/wishes/unmet needs
- the social system
- 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).
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
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
- 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.