Class always proves to be exciting when we have a guest speaker, whether it be via Skype or in person. Mohammed Bey from the office of Multicultural Education came in to present to us a diversity game and social constructions of knowledge activity. At the start of class Mohammed asked us to write down the first thing that came in to our mind when he said we would be having a diversity discussion. I have to admit I was a bit hesitant but I finally wrote down, “this should be interesting,” and I couldn’t have been more on point.
To highlight the importance of role diversity Mohammed had all of us participate in a human version of the jumping frog game. Once everyone was positioned on a “lily pad” Mohammed gave guidelines and limitations to certain students telling them they were not allowed to talk or they must leave their head down the entire game which created role diversity within the game.
With multiple members not being able to participate as more than a movable pawn, the game quickly became frustrating and stressful. The game is modeled off an online frog game with lily pads and I figured that since I had previously played and solved the online game I would be able to help the group complete the activity. I realized quickly this would not be the case as we had too many people and too much confusion. It also became quite clear that I had been thrust in to a sort of leader role in which I voiced my opinion often and kept the movement of the game going.
After each failed attempt we were reminded of our decreasing time limit and with that warning came an increase in stress level. I felt pressure to continue to give instructions and eventually reach a solution but I knew this wasn’t going to happen if only myself and one other girl were talking. I kept hoping that other members would step up and take the lead or at least offer some suggestions. I would consider myself a very determined person and this activity was no exception but I could feel my determination fading as more and more group members began to give up.
After Mohammed called quits on the activity I returned to my seat a bit frustrated and on edge because I began to see there were ulterior motives to using such an activity in the classroom. I understand he wanted all of us to see how roles can affect a community or a group of people. He wanted us to feel frustrated and he wanted us to push our boundaries of comfort in a group.
It wasn’t until Mohammed began to speak about his own childhood and about his role as a father that I was able to open up to the discussion and accept the lesson. As a black man, Mohammed spoke of his own experiences with racism and he made one point that has really stuck with me. Even though most people live their lives believing they are beyond any sort of racism, sexism, or classism Mohammed felt that all people have an “ism” engraved in them. It is socially integrated, engraved and instilled in our beings and as hard as we fight them we resort back to them without realizing our own actions. The knowledge of such beliefs explains how we see things as we are and not necessarily as things always are leading us to the social construction of knowledge. This isn’t a bad quality because as humans we learn to portray the good in our beings and resist the bad so a constant internal balance is kept allowing the “isms” to subside. I believe that one must always be aware of these “isms” and understand how they developed and how, as a person, they developed to resist the “isms” of society.
This class really opened my eyes in a lot of ways to my own construction of knowledge and to my own abilities in different roles. I am proud to have the ability to step up to leader roles but I am often weary of any repercussions. When asked my I felt the need to continue to talk and lead the group, I stated that if I didn’t say something then no one else would. It may have just been a silly game to keep us engaged but in that short phrase I learned from my own example just how important it is for people to stand up for what they believe in and make a change especially if no one else will. After such a frustrating class of trying to solve the tricky game I feel it is only necessary to add the solution in for good stress release and maybe even a little laugh!