Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Heeding the Call: A Program on Justicemaking for Junior High School Youth

Alternate Activity 3: Perceptions Matter

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Leader Resource 4, Vanity
  • Index cards
  • Pens or pencils

Preparation for Activity

  • Print out Leader Resource 4, Vanity.

Description of Activity

Youth question the power of perceptions.

Hand out index cards. Tell the group you are going to show them an image. Some of them may have seen it before; if they have, ask them to play along as if they had not. Pass Leader Resource 4, Vanity, around the group, instructing them to hold the image at arm's length, look at it quickly, pass it on, and write down on the index card what they saw. Collect all the cards and read them aloud. Tell participants that this is an optical illusion called "Vanity." If no one saw the skull, point it out to the group. Pass the image around again. How many youth saw the skull? How many saw the lady? How many youth saw both images? Discuss the title of the illusion and why it represents a woman at her vanity and a skull.

Ask participants what perceptions or first impressions have to do with awareness. Invite youth to share examples of a time they thought one thing was happening, but actually something else was taking place, or a time that they misjudged or "pre-judged" someone based upon first impression. If you have an example, share it with the group to start the conversation. Affirm that everyone does this and it does not make you a bad person. Our brains are wired to sometimes make snap judgments. It becomes a problem when we always make snap judgments or when our judgments are so engrained that we cannot change our minds, even when confronted with evidence to the contrary or an equally valid "truth." Note that the drawing is a lady at her vanity, but it is also a human skull.