Example 3: A Nine-Cycle Sequence Integrating Two Subjects.

        Karen McLellan and I ran this sequence in 1970, with twenty-four students at a small Midwestern college.  It was an ideal group and situation.  Most of the people knew each other, and many were working together on an ongoing basis in various arenas of student government and politics. Together, they comprised the campus’ organizing core for educational reform and political action. Their group assembled itself together, for the first time, and contracted with us to design a workshop pitched to its interests and needs.

        These included organizing educational reform; working more effectively alone and together; and going more deeply into issues raised by the newly-emergent Women’s Liberation movement. Discussion together led us to design a joint workshop in sexual styles and political behavior. All of the participants were highly motivated.

        The sequence ran from Friday noon through Sunday afternoon, in seven sessions covering about 25 hours; we had at our disposal as much environment as we wanted. For the sake of brevity I won’t list the minor context and evaluation sessions, nor the informal activities; the cycles should be clear.

        1.  Recruiting (self-organized)

        2.  Planning (with player input)

(Friday afternoon)

        3.  General context (15 minutes)

        4.  Introductions (60 minutes)

        An open-circle process about the players’ wants and expectations.

        5.  Sexual mirrors (30 minutes)

        Played twice, with same-sex and mixed-sex pairs. Note its location between (4) and (6).

6.  Small group discussion (20 minutes)

        Male and female groups.

7.  Large group discussion (25 minutes), followed by intermission.

8. Content context (30 minutes)

        Joint presentation by gamekeepers on the Taoist polarities, applying them to some analysis of institutions and the behaviors they condition.

9.  Small group discussion (90 minutes)

        Two mixed groups. Not rejoining them left a dynamic tension.

(Friday night)

;10.  Sexual Animals, three phases (45 minutes)

11.  Small group discussion, male and female groups (40 minutes)

12.  Large group discussion (60 minutes)

(Saturday morning)

13.  Cooperation/Competition (50 minutes)

        Male and female teams. Their styles of work and products were markedly different.

14.  Small group discussion, segregated (40 minutes)

        The gamekeepers’ emphasis on the political nature and style of decision processes was carried over to the next phase.

15.  Large group discussion (45 minutes), followed by lunch.

(Saturday afternoon)

16.   Evaluation and planning, and Warm-up (20 Minutes)

        Too much had been opened up between the players to proceed with the planned cycle, and this afternoon’s cycle was improvised to respond to the women’s need to be heard.  Circle of Sound was used for a preliminary venting and warm-up.

;17.  Caucuses (30 minutes)

        In segregated groups, without the gamekeepers. The processes were open interview, but the exclusion of gamekeepers and the situation’s dynamics made this a somewhat different game.

18.  Reciprocal Fishbowl (40 minutes)

19.  Large group discussion (100 minutes)

20.  Circle of Sound (20 minutes)

        Here, a re-unifying ritual.

(Saturday night)

21.  Reciprocal Theater, preparation and presentation (90 minutes)

        In segregated groups, each representing how an inhibited aspect of its sexuality might be expressed in a work process. (Compare the purpose here with the comparable game in the previous examples. Note also that the use of large teams gave richer process material for the overall political focus of the sequence.)  Sub-phases: context, warm-up, decision, creation, presentation.

Group discussion (60 minutes)

        Dealing with the content of the presentation, first by reciprocal fishbowl and then by a more fluid open-interview process.

23.  Small group discussion (30 minutes)

        Segregated, with gamekeepers, focusing on the processes of work together in the decision and creation phases of (21).

        24.  Large group discussion (40 minutes)

        People were too tired to use the reciprocal fishbowl again.

(Sunday morning

25.  Warm-up (15 minutes)

        Neutral body exercise.

26.  Fishing (90 min.), followed by early lunch

        We fished for information on the power-structure of the campus, as it affected reform efforts; and used the information to prepare (26).

27.  Student Power Game (4 hours), followed by snack time.

        A simulation, beginning with the decision by the women of the mixed "student" team to initiate a Women's Studies curriculum.

28.  Small group evaluation (30 min.)

        In segregated groups, though the teams of (26) had been mixed, to consider from a gender perspective the processes of interaction within the game.

29.  Large group discussion (90 min.)

        The perspectives of (27) were shared briefly without fishbowling. Then the content of (26) was discussed, in terms both of its general information about reform effort and the particular gender-bound styles of institutional interaction that had been revealed.

30. Evaluation (45 min.)

        Attention was paid to the functions of individual games and of sequencing, and to the learning developed overall.  Gamekeepers gave heavy input in their role as consultants on education.  A more leisurely time-span would have expanded this phase considerably; but Saturday afternoon's unexpected process had cramped the remaining time, and no later phase could be sacrificed.

31.  Dinner and Party

        We had had a lot of productive fun together; this was a good ritual to celebrate it and give it closure.


        In addition to the kinds of progression and alternation noted in previous commentaries, there is a basic progression from focus on people's private natures, to intra-group and then inter-group interaction, and then to the workings of large social ensemble.  The overall sequence was much more tightly structured and focused than in the previous example, both because the investigation was more purposeful, and because it involved interweaving the two subjects of gender style and political behavior.  A higher proportion of non-discussion games was used; and the gatekeepers, being more sharply differentiated from the commonality of the players, were more free to give specialized content input (which they did informally in many phases).  The past and future context of ongoing individual relationships enriched both the texture of experience and the meat of discussion, in ways that only a detailed account could describe.

        The balance of small-group and large-group play was again equal.  Discussions took up 15 hours, and activity (including the drama of fishbowls) took 9 hours.  Men and women played separately for many short periods; the cumulative segregated time was only five hours, but its effects dominated the sequence.

        What I find most interesting about this example is the way the two subjects did indeed come to penetrate each other in actual play.  In the context of the players' (and gamekeepers') interest, each action and transaction could not help but be simultaneously an exercise in political behavior and an exercise in gender style.  The games were chosen to be useful vehicles for this dual nature, and the gamekeeping of their arrangement and discussion was designed to focus alternately on first the two subjects, and eventually on them together.  Almost any pair of subjects that bear some relation to each other can be investigated in this manner; and perhaps larger combinations as well, in longer sequences.


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