Friday, March 16, 2012

Utopia Exercise


One of the enjoyable things for me when I teach is tapping into the collective imaginations of my students.  The activity below is one of those assignments when I either love or hate the fact that I assigned the thought experiment ("gedankenexperiment" in German).  

This has both flopped and succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  Some students just have the ability to make decisions about what they do and do not value.  Others have trouble determining what the name of the culture should be.  To watch the dynamics is fun and potentially painful.  As they do this activity, I walk around the room asking clarifying questions, attempting to help them see this new society from the ground up.

After I give them anywhere between thirty and sixty minutes (depending upon my judgment of how seriously and how well they are doing on the activity), we then share out the core of our new societies and then ask questions about how functional or "do-able" their ideas are.  When they take many of their ideas to the logical extension, they begin to understand.  One example was stood out was the culture of the pot-heads.  Everyone had to smoke pot in their culture.  They got a kick out of it.  When the class started asking about sanitation, food growth and consumption, the school and governmental systems, the group realized the folly of their idea, but it was worth it.

As a side note on values, I value the intellectual property rights of those on the internet.  Any photos I use are either my own or searched through the creative commons web site for the world to use, copy, and remix.  If I become aware of use of copyrighted material, I will immediately take it down.

A .doc copy of this exercise can be found here.

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Utopia—Is It Within Our Grasp?
First and Last Names of Group Members



For a long time, younger people have said that our cultural leaders don’t know what they are doing, are corrupt and should be replaced.  Fictional “dystopias” include 1984 and Brave New World.  We are going to examine the flip side, or the positive aspect.  We will be creating an ideal culture that has everything you want and need.

Name of your culture                                                                                                                                                                        
New Ideas
Reasons for why the changes are taking place (i.e., rationale for value/law/attitude)
Values (what is important to the group?)
(These should be chosen freely, chosen among alternatives, after consideration of consequences of alternatives, be prized and cherished, publicly affirmed, and acted upon consistently.)
















Rules & Laws














Attitudes that people in this culture will have











1 comment:

  1. Sorry for such a stupid question, but for this activity, you put students into groups?

    ReplyDelete