9. Confidence and self-esteem

Learner outcome

Confidence and self-esteem

Development activity for outcome:

A family row

Duration 90 minutes
Room requirements Prepare the room so that the “actors” can be seen by the whole class.
Learning aim
  • Young people are confident to actively engage in different forums / situations outside their comfort zones.
  • Young people are willing to take on new activities and meet new people
  • To identify different attitudes towards a conflict
  • To understand the influence of emotions on the outcome of a conflict
  • To consider personal responsibility in a conflict
  • To discuss cultural differences towards conflict
Description of activity (step by step)
0.00 Explain that the activity will involve a short role-play, performed by some of the learners. Those not taking part should observe how the conflict shown in the role-play develops and what role each character has in the conflict. They should also make notes about the different emotions and attitudes they see displayed by the characters.
5.00 Read out the scenario to the class and invite the actors to start the role-play.
8.00 At intervals, call out a change of genre: drama, soap opera, mystery – or others of your choice (every two minutes). The role play should continue until the players reach agreement or until you feel that the main objectives have been reached
20.00 Debriefing and evaluation
Begin by asking the four actors to come out of their roles and reflect on the process:
  • How do you feel about how the role-play went?
  • Was it difficult to play the role you had been allocated? Do you feel happy with the way you did it?

Questions for the whole class:

  • Did you find the scenario realistic? Could such a disagreement happen in your family or social environment?
  • Which emotions did you identify among the characters? Which of these were more helpful and which least helpful for reaching a peaceful solution?
  • Do you think that the various emotions people display (or even the emotions they experience) depend on their cultural background?
  • How do you explain Ava’s attitude during the conflict? Do you think that she was right to stay out of the argument?
  • Do you think that in general it is more important to “reach agreement” or to reach the “right outcome”? What are the dangers in pursuing either of these?
  • Can you think of decisions you have been involved in, where you have taken a role similar to any of the characters in this scenario? Which role was closest to your position?
  • Is the conflict a real one? Are there other “typical” inter-generational conflicts in the society you live in?
  • Can you draw any lessons from the role-play on how to behave in a conflict? Do you think these lessons would be applicable to other situations and cultures?

Photocopy the scenario and the roles and give them to four volunteers just before the session starts. Explain to them that they should role-play a family meeting until they find a solution to the conflict described. If you think it would help, you can ask them to be ready to adapt their roles to certain genres that you will announce at intervals during the performance, for example, a soap opera or thriller (see below). They should not show their role cards to each other.

Notepaper and pens for the other learners.

Training aids & equipment

You can either ask for volunteers for the four roles or identify people you know will be comfortable playing them. Give the actors a few minutes after receiving their roles to prepare themselves and use the time to explain the task to the rest of the class. This may also be an opportunity to encourage them to support those who are taking on the roles.
Do not allow the performance to go on for too long: change the genre if the pace is slowing or if you feel that the actors are going round in circles. Make sure to leave at least 30 minutes for the debriefing and evaluation, since these provide important learning opportunities.
Depending on the actors and on the way the play is going, you may not want to introduce a change of genre, but rather let the play go on so as to exploit fully the development of the plot.
When you discuss the emotions that observers have identified, tell them that the actors were asked to represent attitudes of:

Competition (Nadia)
Co-operation (Mariam)
Submission (Afram)
Avoidance (Ava)
Learners will almost certainly identify co-operation as the most useful in reaching a resolution, but you may want to explore examples of conflict where they feel that co-operation is not appropriate: for example, where co-operation may mean sacrificing certain principles.

Comments The activity is based on Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed, which is intended for both actors and non-actors. You should make sure, however, that your class is comfortable about working in this way and that the actors in particular will not be uneasy about role-playing the scenario in front of their peers.


Role-cards and the scenario

The scene is a family get-together, the first for several months. Dinner has just started, when Grandfather Afram turns to his 15-year-old granddaughter, Mariam, and asks her what she is planning to study at college. Mariam has not told her family that what she intends to do is to go to drama school. Her parents have always expected her to go into the nursing profession, like her aunt Ava. She decides that now is the time to tell them about her plans.

In addition to Mariam, Afram and Ava, Mariam’s mother, Nadia, is also at the dinner table.


You are convinced that your daughter will be unhappy all her life if she tries to pursue a career in acting. It is a profession where finding work is difficult and uncertain, and it offers no financial security. You cannot accept that she will go to drama school, although you can see it is what she has decided she wants to do. You see this as a mistaken decision and you know she will regret it later on. Although she is angry with you now for not supporting her decision, you will not change your mind and you believe she will be thankful when she understands the situation better. You know it will be better for her own happiness and security.
You are a nurse and you understand very well all the difficulties of working in that profession. You cannot see anything particularly advantageous about Mariam going into nursing, but you do not intend to take sides in this argument. You think that the decision is nothing to do with you: it concerns Mariam and her parents. You believe that Mariam should be able to decide what she thinks is best for her, but you do not think it is your place to say that at this time.
You love your granddaughter very much but you are surprised and disappointed by her decision to study drama. You know she is very talented and could be successful in various fields, and you will try to persuade her to study something more appropriate.
You believe that drama is not useful, and nor does it have a good reputation for young women. You would much rather that Mariam found something more respectable, more worthwhile and more suited to her abilities.
However, you do not want to push Mariam into doing something she is not interested in or not happy to do. You may in the end be prepared to accept her position if she is really determined that she cannot do anything else.
You have been thinking about this decision for many months now but have not spoken about it before with your family.
You know that what you want to do is to study drama and become a professional actor.
You are very determined that this is what you will do: you do not intend to be pressured by your family into going into a profession you are not interested in. You know there is no point in studying anything else as a back-up option, because this will be expensive and time-consuming and will only make it less easy for you to do what you believe you are best suited to doing.
You will not alter your decision to study drama but you do want the support of your family, so you will try to explain your decision as well as you can and try to make them see your point of view.


Learner outcome

Confidence and self-esteem

Evaluation activity for outcome:


Assessment criteria(these statements are written in the first person but could be used for teacher assessment of learners as well as for self-assessment by learners).
Early Developing Secure
I am confident to engage in activities in small groups of friends.

I value my own and others’ individuality.

I am confident to meet new people, take on new activities and am open to new ideas and perspectives.

I value my own and others’ individuality.

I learn from difficult experiences.

I am confident to take on new activities, meet new people and work in circumstances I am not familiar with.

I am open to new ideas and perspectives that challenge my own.

I value my own and others’ individuality.

I learn from difficult experiences.

I am determined to reach my goals

DURATION  One or two hours
Room requirements Make sure that the physical space permits a fishbowl set-up:
  • A few chairs in an inner circle (elevated, if necessary, to be visible to all)
  • Concentric rings of chairs and/or round tables around the inner circle
  • Aisles to permit easy access to the inner circle
  • Microphones if needed
  • Flip charts or paper on walls for written or graphic recording of key ideas is sometimes helpful
Evaluation activity description (step by step)

A small-group conversation or a dialogue process held in a setting which includes a larger group of observers/listeners. A fishbowl is an experiential exercise that enables active participation through discussion by those inside the “fishbowl” and active observation by those outside it.

Think of the fishbowl as a central stage with observers sitting around it. A typical fishbowl set-up has an inner circle of chairs for about five to eight people, with more chairs for observers set around the inner circle.


  1. Propose the main topic of the fishbowl: it can be personal perspectives on a specific issue, a question and answer session about something studied or experienced before, or a debate among different stakeholders.
  1. Ask learners to take few minutes to reflect individually on the proposed topic and write down on a sticky note a question or an issue they would like to see discussed during the activity.
  2. Place all the sticky notes in a hat or box.
  1. Invite three or four learners to sit in the inner circle, and tell the rest of the group to sit in the rows around them. Ask the learners in the inner circle to start “fishing” the questions or issues from the box and discussing them – but giving adequate time to each question before moving to the next one. Tell the class that when someone from the outer circle wants to contribute to the discussion, they should touch the shoulder of the person in the inner circle that he/she wants to replace and go and sit in his/her seat. The person who has been touched must go and sit somewhere in the outer rows.
    (30 min minimum)
45.00 Makes sure that the inner circle keeps the discussion focused and that there is an exchange of actors among the inner and outer circles.
60.00 When the session is over, facilitate a debriefing based on these questions:
  • How did you feel participating in the inner and outer circles?
  • What was the class dynamic like during the session?
  • Are you satisfied with the discussions and the answers related to the topics?
  • What have you learned that could be useful for the future?

Observe learners and evaluate them according to the level of fulfilment of the assessment criteria.

Materials Markers, pens, sticky notes, box or hat, flip chart

For more information about the Fish Bowl technique, visit: