Building social capital – let’s be kids again and Circle UP!
We all remember the time when we were young and without predispositions towards everything and everyone that deviates from our societal or cultural norms – we were kids. Moving on in life, growing up, taking on more and more responsibilities, seems to make us forget that as a child we were creative, learned from our mistakes, and, above all, did not judge things we could not understand.
Consequently, many of my workshop activities are playful, experiential-based ones. Sport, play, and the arts are pivotal parts of experiencing intercultural diversity as a function of human and social capital. In particular to strengthen bonds within teams that may too often rely on task-based collaboration only. Taking them out of their comfort zone by playing together tends to reveal behavioral patterns, strengths, and weaknesses that remain hidden in the mist of day-to-day operations.
Circle Up - was my first instruction to my new WCRC friends on this Tuesday morning in the beautiful surroundings of rural Lower Saxony. The team was supposed to take positions according to the Dragon Boat setup. With minimal instructions the participants were tasked and timed to pass a ball around in the shortest time possible, while adhering to a self-defined sequence. No other rules were applied!
After the first round, I asked if the team believed they could speed up the process while keeping the sequence the same – still, no other directions were given. Nothing changed, though the passing happened quicker, as there was no gap in deciding who to pass the ball to next.
Once more, the same inquiry was made, whether or not an improvement seems feasible. Eventually, one team member stepped up, suggesting coming closer together. A rather logical approach, yet interestingly some rebellion occurred. Some members wanted to keep the challenge alive, while practicing the passing of the ball, instead of making it easier.
A game of football in most parts of the world, or something else we deem to follow certain rules, might still change significantly when kids are given the agency to adjust the game according to their own will. The freedom of self-directed learning remains a vital part of liberal education. Scholars believe such an approach drives innovation and creates moral values. So, maybe we are meant to more often engage in playful activities, with old and new friends. Drive innovations together and become agents of change – even if it’s the rules we feel doomed to adhere to which are adjusted?