Perfectly Logical Explanations

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This discussion guide is intended to serve as an example of how to engage with “perfectly logical explanation” or dominant narratives (well-known and widely accepted explanations or narratives that are typically in service of the interests and ideologies of dominant social groups) raised in classroom discussion. While the guide below specifically uses a discussion about the representation of women in video games as an example, it is designed to exemplify the kinds of questions that could be raised to critically interrogate any dominant narrative. For more information about Perfectly Logical Explanations (PLE) and the related concepts of multipartiality and powerbalancing, view: http://www.academia.edu/11240620/Facilitating_through_perfectly_logical_explanations_and_other_challenging_participant_comments

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Mapping Social Identity Timeline Activity

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This activity asks students to create a visual map of their socialization in some aspect of identity (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) through the course of their life. Students will create a timeline of their lives, noting at what ages they learned particular lessons about their identity, by whom those lessons were taught, and how those lessons were taught.

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School You, Inc.

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In this activity, students imagine creating a school designed to maintain oppressive norms. Students will consider not only what institutional oppression looks like, but how it is perpetuated as they are encouraged to make their maintenance of oppressive norms subtle and devious. A debriefing discussion after the activity is concluded will encourage students to reflect critically on how the construction of their imagined school relates to real-life institutions and the perpetuation of institutional oppressive norms. The activity can be structured as a large group discussion/activity, a small group discussion/activity with a facilitator assigned to each group, or a small group activity with the entire class debriefing together after the activity is concluded.

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Core Values

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The Core Values Exercise is designed to allow participants an opportunity to explore their personal values on a profound level.  By examining a list of values and ranking each them from “always valued” to “least valued,” participants will engage in serious self-reflection and evaluation.  By the end of the activity, participants will have a chart of core values (those falling in the “always valued” category) that define them.  Additionally, participants will be prompted to share their list of core values with the rest of the group and generate a list of shared values. Doing so will give participants the opportunity to observe others’ core values, and will promote dialogue about any differences present as well as any common values.

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Barnga

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BARNGA is a simulation game that encourages participants to critically consider normative assumptions and cross-cultural communication. It was created by Sivasailam “Thiagi” Thiagarajan in 1980, while working for USAID in Gbarnga, Liberia. He and his colleagues were trying to play Euchre but all came away from the instructions with different interpretations. He had an ‘A-ha’ moment that conflict arises not (only) from major or obvious cultural differences but often from subtle, minor cues. He created the game to tease out these subtleties. In this activity, students play a card game silently, each operating with a different set of rules, unbeknownst to them.

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