The exercise can be used in all modules. It may be useful to include it at the end of any given unit, given that it is designed to encourage reflection and create links between the past and present. The pupils can then apply their new knowledge from the module they have just completed, reflect on their individual thoughts on the subject, and be trained in the practical application of making political judgements.
It is also possible to use the exercise as an introduction to a module. In that case, however, it would be advantageous if the pupils already had some knowledge of history and politics. This will help them to understand and contextualise the quotes, and form their own opinion on this basis. If the exercise is used at the start, it tends to have a confusing effect. This in turn can help to pique the pupils’ interest and curiosity.
The participants reflect critically on a range of positions on the subject of “Refuge and Refugees” and are able to form and justify their own stance on the issue.
The participants gain awareness of structural similarities (and differences) in relation to responses to refugees in the past and present.
The participants recognise that a capacity for empathy is a central precondition for a humane society.
Between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on the size of the group and the liveliness of the discussions between pupils.
A4 print-outs of the quotes
two “pole” cards (“agree”/ “disagree”)
Stick a barometer (a long line) to the floor with masking tape. Alternatively, a long line can be drawn on the board with chalk. Place the A4 print-out with the title “I agree. / I can understand this.” at one end of the barometer. The “I disagree. / I can’t understand this.” sign goes at the other end.
The teachers select a number of quotes, depending on the size of the group. It works well if two pupils work together on a quote. Their task is to read their quote carefully, to discuss it and to come up with an opinion on it. At the end, they will have to justify this to the group. Finally, they should decide together where on the barometer to place their quote.
When everyone is ready, one team of two should begin. They may volunteer to start, or you can simply go round the circle. Each team reads their quote out loud, places it on the barometer and explains their choice. They can use the whole length of the barometer to grade their decisions (middle = “can’t decide” or “I’m not bothered” / towards the plus = “I think this is fairly good or right” to “very good” and “excellent” / towards the minus = “I think this is wrong or bad” to “very bad” and “totally out of order”). The quotes are just laid in the relevant position on the masking tape line on the floor. Magnets can be used to hold the quotes in position on the board.
After each quote is introduced, the group is asked if they all agree, or whether anybody would have placed the quote in a different position. Each quote is discussed in turn in the larger group/class.
After all the pairs have introduced and positioned their quotes, the group is asked if everyone agrees with the way the quotes are arranged, or whether anybody would like to change anything / has a different opinion on a quote. Then the whole group stands up and they can all rearrange the quotes that they would position differently. Because the quotes can also be put back as they were, the barometer ideally develops a dynamic of its own. The teacher’s role is to observe the quotes that are moved most frequently. These obviously generate the biggest differences of opinion within the group. To conclude, these particular quotes are then discussed once again with the group as a whole.
Obviously, it is good if the pairs are able to agree. If the pupils in a pair have very contrasting positions, they should make this clear too. In this case, the pair should present both opinions and/or describe the disagreement. The card will then generally end up in the middle of the barometer to indicate something along the lines of “undecided”.
The quotes are always in the right place! The teachers are not entitled to rearrange the quotes themselves. This is about the pupils’ opinions.