The first part of this two-part project took place during the last week of February 2022 in the serene countryside of Occitania (South-West region of France). The general aim of this training course was to enhance participants' critical thinking skills in different topics. The first part focused mainly on the personal, societal, intercultural and humanitarian fragments of critical thinking.
Immediately on the first real project day, we jumped heads-on into different topics and segments that carve our way of thinking, expressing and judging. The way the first session was executed was absolutely brilliant because instead of using regular in-formal session making techniques, the organisers re-arranged an exhibition of critical thinking which they had recently experienced in a nearby Toulusean museum. In my opinion it was a fantastic idea because it gave the participants an immersively practical introduction into the vast topics of critical thinking. (In case you want to hear more details about this exhibition, don’t hesitate to contact Via Brachy).
Of course this exhibition wasn’t the only highlight of this project. The organisers often used different creative and playful youth work related techniques. We three in the Estonian team gathered many new ideas that can be implemented in our own personal and youth/cultural work related lives.
One of the highlight techniques enacted in my opinion was surely the “Opinion box”, which basically means putting two teams of 2-4 members in a small boxing rink looking area and giving them a problematic societal issue to debate about. The main difference between this and a regular debate is that the competitors don’t have the opportunity of choosing an arguing side. In addition it wasn’t as official and politically correct as a regular debate since the competing teams had only around 2 minutes for preparing their arguments. Thanks to this we were able to understand through practical experience how easily people can lose their critical thinking power when they are in a hectic argument with someone. (NB! In the video link added below they were “fake boxing”)
During the week we also learned a lot about our own prejudices and unconscious discrimination. Almost everyday in one of the prejudice related sessions there was this short part where we had a “Walk the talk” thingy, where we all had to go on a ten minute walk in pairs, during the walk both sides had to talk uninterruptedly for 5 minutes straight about a given topic.
Last but not least I would also like to mention the general quality and cleverness of this course and its participants. It was surely a very eye-opening training course and the diversity of ages and backgrounds of the participants added many useful and thoughtful layers to this course. Participating in a project organised by Via Brachy is an experience I would definitely recommend.