Inside Versus Outside

Students create short videos about situations that hurt them. Viewers then play a 3D game of the story and respond to relevant prompts.

Photo of Nkomo Morris
8 2

Written by


Further research, with the help of my mentor!

Middle school bullying often comes from a developmentally limited place. Youngsters going through early puberty are so self-focused that they don't really understand why the feelings and opinions of other people matter; they also don't really believe that there is  a difference between the way one can feel and the way one can act. Thus, if they are all making fun of someone, if that person plays along out of a desire for emotional survival, they will assume that the person is okay with being called names.  

My idea is to get students to recognize that people are complex and that just because someone is laughing and playing while you call them something cruel... doesn't mean they like it or are okay with it.

I'd like to get some students of various ages to create videos of situations in which they felt hurt or bullied. Viewers would then play an immersive game of the situation, seen from the first person perspective of the person who gave the testimony of their experience. They would be prompted to respond, but the only options they would get would be the options the person in the video mentioned. If they didn't mention  any options, none would be provided.

The game payer would be able to look around at people involved in the situation and then describe how they feel about each person, how they feel about themselves, what they think will happen next, and what they wish the person had said or done.

Combining video with video game experience will allow kids to recognize the difference between actions and feelings and help them see that the two don't always match. Not allowing the players to do or say anything other than what the person in the video testimonial did or said helps the students recognize what powerlessness feels like without actually putting them into powerless, traumatizing situations themselves.


Over time, students would have the option of uploading their own videos and creating their own 3D versions of their stories of powerlessness and frustration and anger.

8 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Erin
Team

How do you think you might structure this so students truly understand what it's like to be the other person, being teased?

What sorts of writing prompts do you imagine?

Photo of Nkomo
Team

Thanks for these questions; they are deepening my thinking. Now I'm envisioning a platform where the kids watch the video, then they are in the experience via video game. They get to be the person in the situation, and other characters in the game say or do the hurtful things that happened to the person in the video, and they have to respond using the responses that the person in the video used. Then the prompts would be along the lines of -- How are you feeling right now? Look around at the folks who are watching this happen. What are your feelings about them? I'm gonna update my post to reflect these thoughts. Thank you for this awesome question!

Photo of Michael
Team

Yeah, this is a pretty incredible idea. I love the idea of using real situations for the students to learn from. And gamefiy it, genious. I like that you are thinking about how to make sure students are empathizing, not just sympathizing. Such a fine line and a lot of programs end up promoting sympathy. I found his article helpful about empathy vs sympathy helpful: http://www.everup.com/2016/05/09/complicated-relationship-empathy-sympathy/

I wonder if it needs to be made more explicit for students. What would sympathy look like vs empathy? Just some thoughts. Excited to see this idea evolves. Happy to help!

Photo of Nkomo
Team

Thanks so much for this article and your input! You are giving me some of the vocabulary I need to make sense of this stuff.

I'm a middle school teacher, so while I'd never heard the strange ability middle schoolers have to compartmentalize referred to as empathy vs sympathy, I very often do see kids express feelings of great kindness, but then turn around and say and do the cruelest things. They don't--as the article says--FEEL the other person's feelings.

I like the idea of making the difference between empathy and sympathy more explicit for them, but after they have the experience, to get them to think about why we had them hear about the story and then live it.

Photo of Erin
Team

I've spent my career with middle schoolers, too, Nkomo Morris . I think you've hit it right on the head - and they need PRACTICE in feeling what other people feel. How might we, as teachers, give them opportunities to do this?

Photo of Erin
Team

I really love the revisions to your post, Nkomo Morris ! Keep pushing! Keep ideating!

Photo of Nkomo
Team

I hope you'll consider taking a look at the additional details and clarifications I've added!

Photo of Nkomo
Team

I really appreciated the article about the difference between empathizing and sympathizing. I ended up sharing the article with my 8th grade class, and they seemed to find it pretty interesting (as did I)!