Familiar Faces

Contributor: Lindy-Ann Blaize Alfred, Robert Gordon University, l.blaize-alfred@rgu.ac.uk

Ingredients: slides, participant resources, familiar-faces PowerPoint slides


  1. Explain the purpose of the exercise – to identify as many familiar faces as possible in one minute. Tell participants that they are to work individually. Ask participants to draw a 4x4 grid in advance. Then show the second slide for approximately one minute [I generally do about 90 seconds]. Keep reinforcing the need to work individually
  2. Hide slide. Ask participants to identify by show of hands how many faces they could name. at this point, do not let them share names or reveal any answers.
  3. Ask participants to how move around and work as a group to identify as many faces as possible, allow 4-5 minutes for this. encourage them to get up and work with other groups
  4. Go back to the first slide – and identify as many faces – do not provide any answers at this point
    1. At this point ask - How many people did you identify individually, then with the group? – This teaches us the power of collaboration
  • Show the third slide – and ‘story-fy’ a few of the faces [depending on what you’re trying to elucidate]

For example:

Each picture is a story – and is used to highlight a number of issues for example – Trayvon Martin’s murder is said to be one of the drivers of the #blacklivesmatter movement, Taraji Henson is alleged to be related to Matthew Henson, the first African American to reach the North Pole, the two actors are iconic Nigerian characters – little people – highlights diversity. John Sentamu Archbishop of York – very political, an immigrant. Ahmed [the boy who built the clock and got arrested – unconscious bias. Zhang Ziyi has refused roles that aim to portray her as a victim/sold wife because it reinforces the negative stereotypes of Asian women  and so on…..

Overall Feedback= What do we know outside of our own sphere of influence? “How can we really prepare students [or our children] for a globalized world when we are insular. A global citizen is someone who identifies with being part of an emerging world community and whose actions contribute to building this community's values and practices.”

NB: This can be served either as a starter – or as a main course. The latter could involve the participants completing some research on the familiar faces during the session and doing a bit of a ‘biography’ to present at the end of class. As an icebreaker, this is a useful way of getting a group of people who don’t know each other to ‘mill’. I use this when delivering a session to staff to encourage them to reflect on the wider context of HE and to think beyond their own ‘realities’. You can adapt the pictures you use to suit the particular context – this was to develop the notion of a global citizen – but also explored aspects of equality and diversity.

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