What Are Your Bubbles?
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What Are Your Bubbles?

To help students grasp the shape and dimensions of the bubbles inside which they live, and to identify strategies for venturing outside those bubbles to experience and learn.

Time to complete

40 minutes

What principles, ground rules, or concepts are at play here?

  1. Listen, it's as important as talking.
  2. Notice who's not in the room.
  3. Disagreement is fine; it's fruitful. Explore it.
  4. Meeting people who are different doesn't harm us; it makes us stronger and smarter.

How to do the exercise

Ask the class if they've ever heard the expression "living inside a bubble." If yes, ask what they think it means. If no, ask what they think it might mean.

Once you've established the idea, ask what kind of bubbles they think people might live inside. If you're comfortable with it, share what you think are some of the bubbles you inhabit.

You're looking to elicit a list of the kinds of factors that form bubbles around people. You're also looking to establish that most people live inside more than one type of bubble. As the list develops, write the examples up on the board.

Some examples of type of bubbles:

  • Geography
  • Race
  • Class
  • Type of work/profession
  • Religious faith
  • School activities
  • Sports fandom
  • Types of music
  • Cliques/friend groups
  • Hobbies
  • Media habits

(This opening segment should take 10-to-15 minutes.)

Once you've got a good list of the types of bubble people can stay inside, give students 4-5 minutes to write a list of the bubbles that they, either by choice or circumstance, feel they mostly stay inside.

Then put them in groups of three to share with one another their list of bubbles. Encourage them to ask questions of their partners to clarify and go deeper on the nature of the bubbles. Let them know that at the end, they'll be responsible for sharing with the class the things their partner said.

Examples of good questions you could share:

  • What good things do you get from being in this bubble?
  • Do you feel you miss out on anything by staying inside this bubble?
  • Is there a bubble you wish you were part of that you're not?
  •  What do you think would happen if you ventured outside this bubble?

Then, with the whole class, ask students one thing that one of their partners said that struck them as really interesting.   Then ask if this bubble or idea about bubbles came up in other groups.

Harvest details and insights from the triads in this way for 5-10 minutes, as long as there's energy.

Invite students to suggest ways to get outside some of the bubbles mentioned during the class e.g.  Listen to a different kind of music; look at a different website or blog; visit a part of town you do not normally go. Also, invite them to mention some of the obstacles or risks to doing these things e.g. Sometimes, it's not really safe to walk through a neighborhood you don't know.

Follow-up assignment

Each student lists one thing they'll to venture out of one bubble they'll name.  They also should list one thing they hope to gain by doing so, and one risk they'll have to be aware of.

PA State Standards

  • 5.3.U.D. / 5.3.C.D. - Evaluate the roles of political parties, interest groups, and mass media in politics and public policy. 

  • 5.3.9.G. / 5.3.C.G. -  Analyze the influence of interest groups in the political process. 

  • 5.3.9.H. / 5.3.C.H. - Evaluate the role of mass media in setting public agenda and influencing political life.

  • 5.2.12.B. - Examine the causes of conflicts in society and evaluate techniques to address those conflicts.