Line of inquiry: How easy is it to trust others? When is it easy and when is it difficult?
Grade range: 8-12
Group size: 5-7 students
Materials: One small table, strong enough for someone to stand on, at the front of the room, with space around the tables for students to stand.
Time: 30 minutes or more, depending on how many want to participate.
Skills: Critical thinking skills, communication, cooperation.
Space: the front of a classroom, where the table and some students will fit.
Directions: One student will volunteer to leave the room. If other students want to try the trust exercise, they must go out as well and take turns coming back in to the room. The facilitator will pick 5-6 volunteers to be the “labor force.” They will be lifting the table – while the student who left the room – standing on it. But that student won’t know what is happening. The five or six students will come forward, encircle the table and at the facilitator’s request, lift the table, slowly and in unison. Ask that they not tilt the table. Keep it as level (and safe) as possible.
Deliver the Challenge: Another student will go out of the class; this person will be the CEO. The volunteer will stand on top of the center of the table they must wear a blindfold. After the person is centered, they will place the tops of their hands on the heads of two of the laborers. At the facilitator’s signal the crew will lift the table up about an inch or so while the two laborers, whose heads are being touched, squat down. For the CEO, it will feel like they have been lifted high off the ground.
Extensions: This activity makes a good introduction to marketing, developing community and building a nation.
Reflection: How did it feel to give up all control? As a laborer, did your task seem insignificant? Did it change? How much trust is required to build governments, communities, and families?
Notes: Because of the surprise element, this is a one-time activity. It does grab the student’s attention and gives them a visual to apply to further study.