ROLE PLAYING of SEVEN KINDS OF DISCUSSION
There are seven common kinds of mutual talking that are called discussions. They are:
1. Socratic a led discussion in which the leader asks a sequence of questions to shape the answers from the participants that the leader intends;
2. Pop-corn in which participants individually speak out their opinions without listening to other participants;
3. Byzanty a shouting match which goes nowhere;
4. Debate a formal, verbal combat in which participants are prepared to argue either side of a premise (positive statement);
5. Analytical mathematical/scientific) in which there is rigorous order (scientific) in describing or defining a topic related to the natural world;
6. Scholastic in which participants compete by naming ever more authoritative sources,
7. Cooperative, open-ended in which participants work together to further their common understanding of a question, topic or aspect of nature (MaHakkaat at-Tafkir discussions).
As it is not easy for middle school pupils to understand the differences between these seven kinds of discussion from written descriptions, scripts have been written to illustrate each. Teachers can use these scripts in many ways:
A. They may read each script as a text for MaHakkaat at-Tafkir discussions.
B. They may read each script together with pupils and then have pupils play each role, reading from the script. In this role-playing pupils can be encouraged to use as much expression as they can to make the characters come to life (This reading can be repeated until every pupil who wishes may participate). All the pupils will learn to recognize these 7 kinds of discussion.
C. The pupils may be assigned parts to memorize (in which Arabs excel). Then the role-playing may be done without reading, so that pupils can be more realistic in their expressions. (This can also be repeated until all pupils who wish have a chance to play a role.)
Either of these three methods, or some way the teacher invents, may be used. The objective is to familiarize the pupils thoroughly with the scripts, by participation and/or observation, The scenes are placed in Jordan (and Jerusalem) to give pupils pride of their history. The scripts describe different periods of history to instill a sequence of Jordan’s history—to re-enforce a “time-line” in the minds of pupils. Famous historic personalities are used in fictional situations to help pupils remember these 7 kinds of discussions.
These seven scripts can be used a month or so apart without losing effectiveness. Pupils will remember the differences because they have role-played those difference and or seen others role-play them for re-enforcement learning.
Once pupils have role-played Pop-corn and Byzanty “discussions,” the teacher can re-enforce learning more by encouraging the pupils to play those roles as humorous and/or poking fun at them. The teacher may over-emphasize “controlling” aspects of the Socratic script. The teacher should point out the rigor of analysis for script 7. And the teacher may stress the stuffiness of scholasticism. Teachers may think of other ways to utilize the first six scripts so that pupils will compare the seventh to them more favorably.
Role Playing of a script is a way to involve students in the experience of an activity so that they may understand it more deeply. In MaHakkaat at-Tafkir, we wish to role play scripts that demonstrate seven kinds of mutual talk often called “discussion.” Participants ( At first, Trainers of Trainers, Supervisors and Teachers of Arabic and later, through tem students.) take the roles of persons of the past, fictional and real to read the words of persons taking part in different types of discussions.
The objective is to familiarize the pupils thoroughly with the scripts, by participation and/or observation, The scenes are placed in Jordan (and Jerusalem) to give pupils pride of their history. The scripts describe different periods of history to instill a sequence of Jordan’s history—to re-enforce a “time-line” in the minds of pupils. Famous historic personalities are used in fictional situations to help pupils remember these seven kinds of discussions and in which sequence they were lived in Jordan’s history.
The leader (teacher) should assign the roles, first to students with strong voices, then to others. Ideally, each student should have the opportunity to play at least one role. In the process, every student will hear the script read, see fellow students enact the seven kinds of discussion, reading and hearing those scripts enough times to be able to differentiate those seven kinds of discussions, in a period of Jordan’s history; in famous historic sites and with famous names connected to Jordan’s history.
We have found that many Jordanians do not have a “visual” memory of the time succession of periods of history, in any sequential order in their minds. These seven periods—from Alexander the Great in 335 BC to Abdullah I in 1923 (through Roman Emperor Hadrian, 120 AD, Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 536 AD and the great Abbasid Caliph Haroun ar-Rachid in 805 AD, Omar Khayyam in 1120 AD, Jamal ad Din al Afghani in 1865 AD)—will help students construct in their minds pictures or graphic symbols of a linear history. On such a line-line is established they can attach in proper order other historic periods important to Jordan and to themselves.
Once pupils have role-played Pop-corn and Byzanty “discussions,” the leader can re-enforce the differences strongly by encouraging pupils to play these two roles (of less desirable kinds of “discussions”) as humorous and/or by poking fun at them. The leader may also over-emphasize the “controlling” aspects of the Socratic script. Debates should be seen as good exercises but not connected to the convictions of the debaters—they promote bad usage of “balaaga.” These five scripts need not be used all at the same time or even in sequence. It is important to make clear that cooperative, open-ended discussions (#5) are the most empowering of the mind. In such discussions, participants are working together to try to understand better.