Value Exercises

Value exercises are used to clarify and create discussion about issues in which the boundaries between knowledge and values tend to be blurred.

Value exercises may be a good way of starting a lecture, both as an icebreaker and as an ‘energiser’ — a way of stimulating ideas.

They are a tool used for the purpose of holding a dialogue about, reflecting on and discussing values — especially personal ones, but also those of one’s sphere of work, organisation and community.

Values or norms are revealed and scope for greater awareness, development and change is created for the group and the individual.

Value Exercises: Form and Content

‘Form’ refers to the actual structure of the exercise: the ‘recipe’. The form may be direct and simple, such as the ‘hot chair’, ‘value barometer’ or ‘four corners’ exercise.

Value exercises may also be more complex in form. Examples are roleplay, forum theatre and discussions in small groups (‘idea hunters’ etc.). The content is determined by the subject to be problematised, the questions posed and assertions made, the knowledge available in the room and the manner in which dialogue during the exercise and discussion after it are conducted.

Examples of Value Exercises

The Swedish Youth Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Rights and the Living History Forum have jointly produced a set of material on methods, entitled ‘BREAK THE NORM!’. This contains several value exercises on norms in general and the heteronorm in particular.

‘Four corners’ is an exercise in which participants must take a stand on four statements that are placed in different corners of the room. The group leader initially poses a question or makes an assertion. The participants then express their attitude by going to one of the four corners. The participants then have to present the reasons why they chose as they did. Finally, they have a chance to move to another corner, i.e. to change their opinion.

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