1. Using writing to elicit children's feelings

This part explores ways of working that will allow pupils to express their feelings and explore ideas about many things, including their personal lives. It looks at how to manage conflicts and frustrations more effectively.

Often, when starting topics that touch on sensitive issues, it is helpful to let pupils explore their ideas privately first. Writing thoughts down around an issue can help to stimulate thinking. This is a technique that can also be applied to other topics to find out what pupils already know.

Case Study 1: Writing to express feelings and point of view

Vivian in Accra, Ghana, discussed with her junior secondary pupils the kinds of things that make children feel different and/or left out.

Next, she asked them to look at a picture of a child sitting alone while others played (Resource 1: Child who is ‘left out’), and asked them to write about this child. She also asked them if they had ever felt left out or different from others in the past, or if they were feeling this way at present. She asked them to write about these feelings.

Then they played games that helped them to experience what it was like to have a physical disability (see Resource 2: Games that promote understanding of physical disability). Afterwards, they talked about how such disabilities may make children feel different and sometimes cause them to be rejected by their classmates. They also talked about children who suffered from HIV/AIDS, or whose parents had died from that disease. Vivian asked them to write about their experiences during the games. What did it feel like to have a disability?

After this, before starting a sensitive topic, Vivian often asked her pupils to write or talk in pairs or small groups to explore their own ideas first.

Activity 1: Writing to express ideas and feelings

When starting a sensitive topic with pupils it is useful to explore their ideas and feelings first.

Select a picture, poem or story to stimulate their thinking (see Resource 1 for one example).

Show the picture/read the poem or story and ask them to think about what it means to them.

Ask them to write or talk with their partner about their thoughts and include their feelings as well.

Remind them that no one will mark this or judge what they say to each other. It is for them to think about what they think and feel at that moment.

Next, discuss with the class what they think the messages are in the picture.

Section 4: Ways of presenting your point of view

2. Organising a debate