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Activity 1: Mattering and Marginality

Activity time: 20 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Paper and pens/pencils
  • A clock, and a bell or chime to signal time

Preparation for Activity

  • Assure that participants have appropriate surfaces for writing.

Description of Activity

This activity is adapted from an exercise developed by Dr. L. Lee Knefelkamp, described in "Integrating Jewish Issues Into the Teaching of Psychology" by Evelyn Torton Beck, Julie L. Goldberg and L. Lee Knefelkamp, Chapter 17 in Teaching Gender and Multicultural Awareness edited by Phyllis Bronstein and Kathryn Quina (Washington, DC: APA Press, 2003).

Distribute paper and pens/pencils. Invite participants to journal their responses to the prompts as you read them aloud. Allow the time suggested for writing after each prompt:

  • Consider a time in your life when your presence, your skills and your ideas really mattered. What were the circumstances? How did you know that your contributions mattered? How did you respond to the situation in that moment? How did you respond, going forward? (Allow four minutes for journaling.)
  • Consider a time in your life when you felt marginalized, on the margins. A time when you believed your presence, your ideas, your skills and your opinions were not all that important. What were the circumstances? What gave you the impression that your contributions were not really valued? How did you respond to the situation in that moment? How did you respond, going forward? (Allow four minutes for journaling.)
  • As you contrast the two situations, what strikes you? What was your level of engagement, energy, creativity and imagination in each case? What conclusions can you draw from the two different experiences? (Allow three minutes for journaling.)

Invite participants to turn to another person and to share their experiences and conclusions as much as they are comfortable. After two minutes, remind pairs to switch speakers. After four minutes, invite general comment on the last question: are there conclusions you draw from the two different experiences?

Including All Participants

If any participants who cannot journal in response to the prompts, modify the activity by inviting people to work in pairs and verbally share their responses to each section with one another.

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