Saturday, September 08, 2012

All The World's A Stage

Shakespeare joins ES2007S.

This week in the second tutorial session all three groups came alive as we dramatized various interpersonal scenarios. The main purpose was two fold: to give students a chance to interact within possible conflict situations, and to once again put them in a position where they had to leave their normal comfort zone and be spontaneous, albeit with a slightly altered identity. 

In Group 7, the Academy Award ballots came out early as we watched Yong Sheng and Yea Wen get right to the heart of the interpersonal matter with commanding performances that clearly connected with their real world experience. Yea Wen saved the day as she consoled her "friend" in what was supposed to be an issue of disappointment with his own academic performance. For drama's sake, Yong Sheng's application of eye drops was just a starter though.

On came Shi Ying and Min Thu in what appeared to be a serious tear jerker. Shi Ying was bawling her eyes out in woe, having been dumped supposedly by her "bf" Sai, when Min Thu tried to help her pick up the pieces, gently consoling her. We all learned that in a case where love becomes unrequited, it's best to just stand by and listen.

A number of masterful performances ensued, many related to the frequent social issue of one team member not playing his or her part in project work. In Group 4's tutorial session, that sort of conflict was precisely the basis for fine outings by Heather and Wei Song. 

If you look at the photo above, you can see Heather waxing indignant, presenting a non-verbal barrier in response to the accusation by Wei Song that she hasn't been pulling her load.  

In a similar fashion, Patrik prodded Dinh with a low-volume yet insistent position that work deadlines had to be met. If I recall correctly, Patrik was quite skillful in challenging Dinh to explain why he had not been able to complete the assigned task. What's interesting in the photo below is that with his left  hand holding his right arm, Patrik seems to be guarding himself (or holding himself back) from Dinh. What do you think?


In Tutorial Group 1, the first round of the dramatic portrayals of these interpersonal conflicts situations for me on Thursday, among many fine acts, the performance that stands out in my mind at this point (two days later) was that of Kim Bongjin, our spikey-haired blonde from Korea, as he tried to resist the request by Dhanya to help her with a statistics program. He had adopted the position of not wanting to assist her, but having a hard time to "say no," he simply grimaced and squirmed and delayed any verbal response. She pushed and pushed, but he neither agreed nor disagreed, in what we all would recognize as stereotypical East Asian behavior. The nonverbals, again, were priceless.

What did I learn from this exercise? That role play is indeed a compelling motivator for students to get on task, and that we have serious acting talent amongst us. 

I'm curious what any of you might have to add about the experience. Which performances resonated with you? What did you take away from the session?


Nirav Gandhi said...

So far, this was the most interesting activity we have had in our class. Not only because the activity was fun, but also because this activity taught us the important role emotions play in our day-to-day communication.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed to be one of the judges.

We definitely should have more of these. Thank you Brad. :)

Teresa Widodo said...

Hi Brad!

Yes, I agree with Nirav. We should have more of this! The most important takeaway, in my opinion, is through the play and discussions, we managed to find out various way-outs which are very applicable to our daily life.

And I believe BJ's performance was also supported by Dhanya's persistence. She was really good at pushing him to say yes, anyway, although BJ's non-verbal cues were crystal clear. Thumbs up for both of them!!! :) I also admire Eunice's acting. She seemed so confident and comfortable and professional in handling the matter (the S/U blog mate) and at the same time showing her empathy by offering help.

Serene Chua said...

Hi Brad!!!

This is the first time in years that I have participated in a class activity involving skits. All the while, classes has been a routine of lectures and more lectures. This is something really new! Like what Teresa and Nirav has pointed out, it was really interesting.

I feel that role-playing has been really useful. We have to imagine ourselves in that particular scenario and the possible actions that we might take. Actions speak louder than words. This brings me to my next point. I really enjoyed studying the non-verbal cues of my fellow classmates and how well they have immersed themselves in their various roles. I was really impressed by BJ and Dhanya's performance! Great chemistry! And we do have great actors and actresses in our class! Teresa, Eunice, Tasha, Guillaume......... Hollywood style. :)

Renick Lee said...

Hi Brad,

Just thought I would share that the act that resonated most with me was the second one involving a person with bgr issues.

I had a friend once who did seem to have such problems often. When he did talk to me about it I was glad to find out that he found that he liked sharing with me and that it actually prevented him from doing something stupid that day.

We had a few more conversations of the same nature but once I really did not have time to talk when he approached me, so I promised to pick it up again sometime later. That was the last time I ever heard from him as he took his life that week.

Been contemplating what was possibly done wrong, but I guess you're right that in such situations, it is essential that the affected person has to change to some extent or the problem does not go away.

Brad Blackstone said...

Thanks, guys, for your comments. I'm glad you appreciated the activity. We will do as many "hands on" tasks this term a possible.

Nirav, you came just a bit late, or you would have been assigned a dramatic role, too. Of course, playing the part of "critic" was also important.

Teresa & Serene, You're right---Dhanya did a fine job as well, as did Eunice, Tasha, Guillaume and others! I was very impressed, actually!

Renick, I'm sorry to hear about your friend. We can only try our best in situations like that, as I am sure you did.

Ramon Bespinyowong (Jae) said...

Hi Brad,

I really loved this activity. It is both enjoyable and knowledgeable.

This activity points out how important interpersonal communication is and shows the effect of communication from both verbal and nonverbal language. I like the way you comment on each conversation and body language. Without your useful comment, I would not have noticed the meaning behind each post.

After this lesson, I think I will pay more attention on body languages from both myself and who I have a communication with.

Thank you for this joyful class! I am looking forward to more of this.