Learning Look Wider Game

>>  Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Look Wider program can be a bit complicated for the new Rangers to get their head around, especially when they are expected to plan, undertake then record their own achievements themselves.

The Octant Beetle game was fun and helped last year but I wanted to try something different again this year.

I went for board game style with each square representing a section of the chart.  Some squares give examples of what does count like "Phase 3 out of doors, you camped in all four seasons, well done"

But more were like "Phase 1 leadership, write one example in the chart"

Every Phase 2 was miss one turn. Every Phase 3 was miss 2 turns.  This was to demonstrate that they take longer to achieve.
The chart for the game they had to write on was a badly drawn (by me) octant sheet on flip chart paper.

To add some fun in I bought a large soft dice, which they enjoyed throwing around the room and at each other.

There was also the all important and numerous 'Take a Biscuit' squares.  They kept the Rangers fed (an absolute requirement for every meeting it would seem!) and also allowed me to talk about how getting all the phase 2 octants means you have achieved your Chief Guide Challenge.
The game went on for a while but came to a natural end as they started to ask questions like "I'm doing a coaching course at swimming, does that count?" "I'm doing this and that, do they count?" "can I have my record sheet to write so and so in?"

I think sometimes the mood for the evening has to be right and the enthusiasm from the leader must be there too, but I was really pleased with how entertaining they found it, the banter it generated and how fired up they were about getting on with completing their phases of the octants.

But mostly they were aiming for the 'take a biscuit' squares!

I have uploaded the Game Squares and full instructions.  You can Download them to use.

My basic instructions are:

I laminated all the sheets
Bought a large dice from Amazon
Drew an octant chart on flip paper (example on slide 2)
Bought biscuits

Lay the squares out on the floor, I did a circle. A block of them with a walk order might work in restricted space.
Make sure the biscuit squares are spread out.

Rangers pick their own starting point, throw dice and do what it says on the square they land on.

You might say they have to go around the board fully once to win but they will probably decide on their own rules for themselves.

*We played this again recently and it didn't have the same energy as the last time.  I came to the conclusion with the girls I have now I should have put them into teams.  One on the board, one throwing dice and one writing and  create competition between the 2 teams, perhaps by giving them a chart each and be the first team to fill it in completely and to totally ignore all the 'miss a turns'.


Ota Benga

>>  Friday, September 23, 2016

Cog and I went to the Birmingham Sealife in the summer.  I hesitatingly call it summer, as it was cold and throwing it down with rain or sea 'life' as it appeared to be no life at all for the poor creatures in it.  There was a small poking pool in which starfish could be systematically tortured by toddlers, some penguins that had clearly drawn the 'confinement' card and a lot of other water dwellers that seemed cramped and overcrowded in inadequate surroundings.  I was unimpressed.

But didn't think too hard about it until I read feuerthoughts describing exactly how I felt as I shuffled around Sealife  "The justifications for these exhibits fall flat, sound weak and defensive"  But tucked away in a quiet corner it also mentions Ota Benga.

The story of Ota Benga's life was dreadful.  He was taken from the Congo to New York, put in a monkey cage at a zoo and exhibited.   He was eventually released and taken to an orphanage and then he worked but when all hope of returning home was lost he shot himself.

This Guardian write up details his life and it is shameful.  Initially I thought it must have been an ironic living art piece or a demonstration of some sort but no, this was 1906, it was the actual belief that the pygmies were worthless enough to be displayed as animals in a zoo.

The African Pygmy, "Ota Benga."
Age, 23 years. Height, 4 feet 11 inches.
Weight, 103 pounds.
Brought from the Kasai River, Congo Free State, South Central Africa by Dr. Samuel P. VernerExhibited each afternoon during September.

A New York Times article said it was absurd to imagine Benga’s suffering or humiliation. “Pygmies are very low in the human scale, and the suggestion that Benga should be in a school instead of a cage ignores the high probability that school would be a place of torture to him … The idea that men are all much alike except as they have had or lacked opportunities for getting an education of books is now far out of date.”

A statement like that leaves us reeling now and yet at the time it was believed.  In the same way now we still believe it is ok to take Orca babies from their mums for our entertainment and shoot gorillas when that entertainment is not safely controlled.

"Two years before Ota Benga arrived in New York, Daniel Brinton, a professor of linguistics and archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, had used his farewell address as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science to attack claims that education and opportunity accounted for varying levels of achievement among the races. “The black, the brown, and the red races differ anatomically so much from the white, especially in their splanchnic organs, that even with equal cerebral capacity they never could rival its results by equal efforts” "

100 years ago in the UK the class system was holding down the poor,  people with few rights. It was then the very start of welfare reforms. Despite the massive changes with the welfare state, education for all and the opportunities available today we still have a them and us feeling.  We know that the class system still exists to a certain extent and that the most of us will always be in the lower parts of it.  Its no wonder we have so many disenfranchised people here.

100 years ago in America black men were put in zoos in Monkey cages, 100 years is not enough to change attitudes completely, it's no wonder that Black Live Matter still needs to be a thing.

How many generations of knowing something is wrong must pass before there is a complete mind shift with equality for all - regardless of wealth, colour, creed and maybe even one day species.

When will Zoos and Aquariums in the form we know them now be seen as cruel and unacceptable?

As Steven Feuerstein said "simply substitute "Ota Benga" for "elephant" or "stingray" and see how it reads."

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