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4. Bullying and the acceptance of diversity

  • Ounasvaara birch. Photo: A. Torvinen

    Ounasvaara birch. Photo: A. Torvinen

4. Bullying and the acceptance of diversity

1 READ PART FOUR OF THE OUNASVAARA BIRCH FAIRYTALE

“‘You’re useless,’ said the little pine, still so short it barely poked out from between the rocks. ‘You’re no use to anybody. Look at my needles. If anyone gets close, I’ll put their eye out.’

The little pine was so self-assured because no danger had ever approached it.

‘I think it’s completely inappropriate for a birch to grow here,’ said the old spruce, thin, spindly, prickly and prudish. Not once had a cone decorated her branches, nor a bird chosen her as its perch. ‘I’ll say it again: This is no place for a young birch. Why, she’s the image of vanity! Wasn’t she decorating herself in red and yellow in the autumn and twisting and twirling enough to make you feel sick? And when the first gust of wind came by, she dropped all her leaves, the pretence fell away, and now all that’s left is a naked birch of a girl. You feel ashamed just to see it.’

And the spruce covered her face and turned away.”


2 WHAT DOES BULLYING FEEL LIKE AND WHAT DOES BULLYING MEAN?

Talk about bullying. Have you ever been bullied? What should you do if you see someone being bullied? What does it feel like to be bullied, how does bullying affect the person being bullied, what causes bullying? What can we do to prevent it?


3 TALK TO THE BULLIED BIRCH TREE

As a group, gather around the small bullied birch. The leader of the group or someone else plays the role of the birch that has been bullied. The other members of the group ask questions, such as what situations the bullying has been taking place in, what form it takes and what can be done to address it. The person playing the birch or one or more of the people asking questions can relate a true or imagined bullying situation, and then the group can work together to decide how to resolve it. You can repeat this by swapping who plays the birch.


4 TALK TO THE PINE OR SPRUCE BULLYING THE BIRCH

As a group, gather around the pine or spruce that is responsible for the bullying. One person plays the role of the bullying pine or spruce. Then, the group discusses the bullying from the perspective of the bully. You can repeat this by swapping who plays the bully.


5 THE BULLIED BIRCH TALKS TO THE BULLYING PINE OR SPRUCE

Split up into pairs, with one person playing the birch and the other person playing the bullying pine or spruce. What questions do the birch and the bully ask each other when they come face to face? What do they talk about? They may not look and act the same, and they may disagree on many things, but in the end, it doesn’t matter. The birch and the bully eventually become friends by talking to each other. In your pairs, you can discuss what friendship means to the birch, the pine and the spruce. The same pair can repeat the discussion by swapping roles. Larger groups can also rotate people around to form new pairs and repeat the discussion.


6 THE DANCE OF THE BIRCH AND THE PINES OR SPRUCES

Split the group into two, with one half playing the birch and the other half playing the pines or spruces. Everyone find a spot and grow into either a birch or a pine or spruce. Seed – roots – trunk – branches – leaves/needles. Next, each tree plays a song in their head and begins to move to the rhythm without leaving their spot. The trees get carried away by the music and begin dancing around, moving freely. The birches dance with other birches and the pines or spruces dance amongst each other. The birches and the pines or spruces drift together and dance with each other for a moment. They notice each other and keep dancing together. The dance ends in a group hug.


7 THE BIRCH HUG AND THE QUIRKS, PERSONALITY AND STRENGTHS OF THE BIRCH

Find a birch you want to befriend. Go to the birch and examine it closely. You can also compliment it. Hug the birch and tell it how much you value its friendship. Everyone think of 1–3 things about the birch that make you happy or proud. You can also think of the birch’s quirks, personality or strengths, such as a wonderful singing voice. Then, each person introduces their birch to the other members of the group and tells them what is unique about it.


8 EXPLORING AND ACCEPTING DIVERSITY IN YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Look for 2–3 different natural materials in your surroundings. For example, everyone finds a rock and then comes together to compare them, examine them and explore how they differ from each other. Once you’ve done that, think of positive aspects of diversity and what makes diversity a good thing.


9 WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT AND WHAT MAKES US THE SAME
Take a moment to reflect on how the differences you just discussed apply to your own group in real life.


10 FINALLY

Finally, everyone think of a single sentence that praises the power of diversity and why diversity in nature, animals and humans is so important. Then, say that sentence out loud to your surroundings. If you want, you can choose to focus entirely on diversity in nature, animals or humans when you say your sentence. For example, you could say that the nature surrounding you gives you joy and strength thanks to the diversity of trees and rocks within it, that diversity among people is the spice of life or that different animals are interesting. When thinking about your sentence, you can use a positive feeling or emotion that diversity gives you.


Fairytale activity suggestions by Mika Harjumaa.


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