An experiential session with a group of Vision AfriKa learners earlier this month has helped them gain some important insight into what is holding them back from reaching their full potential.
The issue is a key one in historically disadvantaged communities such as Vlottenburg, where achievement levels are not as high as they should be due to deeply ingrained, negative personal and cultural attitudes.
Therefore, in order to try and challenge these beliefs, a group of Grade 8 and Grade 11 students were asked to play three games during the session.
The first one, entitled ‘cat-and-mouse’, saw the learners gather in a large circle, which stood for their community, while an individual was asked to stand in the middle. The aim of this individual was then to try and escape, while the rest of the group tried their best to stop them.
The game encouraged the students to think about things in their community that affected their behaviour in a negative way. These included parents who failed to understand the value of education and so did not support or encourage them at school; substance abuse, and a lack of positive role models.
For the second activity, the learners were asked to choose between educational equipment such as pens or books and other luxuries in their life such as cell phones or watching TV, and to explain the rationale behind their choice.
It soon became clear that the majority came down on the side of the luxuries, which included social media sites, their boyfriend or girlfriend, and reading romances, rather than education.
The third game, called ‘pull-pull’, entailed each student finding an object that was attached to either the wall or floor. They were then asked to hold onto that object and given one minute to think about their biggest dream in life while doing so.
A chair, which represented their dream, was then placed in the centre of the room and each learner in turn was asked to try and reach it while still holding onto their object. None of them were able to do so.
On discussing the activity, it became clear that students did not attain their dreams because they were unable to let go of certain negative attitudes. These included rebelliousness behaviour as well as low self-confidence and poor self-esteem.
After the games, the learners were asked to write down what they felt were their biggest distractions and key inhibitors to making personal and academic progress. Examples included peer pressure, drugs, alcohol, sexuality and the lack of a clear vision and value systems.
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