Student Engagement

The Fear Drag

Material Needed: 2-6 bandanas, 15-30 candies or other treats (this will depend on the room size, available time, and number of participants, baggies to put their treats in, watch or timer, whistle or noise maker
Time Required: 15-25 minutes, depending on debriefing
Group Size: 6-40
Purpose: Dealing with change, emotional intelligence, assertiveness, reducing workplace negativity

Start by selecting 4-12 learners and pairing them up. Then say: "Meet your Navigation partner. One of you is Person A, and the other is Person B. Let's decide who's who right now. Person A is the one with the shortest or else most brightly- polished nails. Check it out now. [Let them do so. Then, handing the bandanna or paper bag to Person A:] This is a blindfold. You will receive further instructions about it shortly. For now, please leave the room with your partner and wait outside. We will call you when we are ready."

  1. As soon as the teams have left, have the rest of your learners swing into action: Half of them place the candies around the room in fairly hard to reach spots, while the other half quickly set up chairs and other objects as obstacles. Note: Be careful to keep the room setup physically safe! The candies and obstacles should represent a challenge, not an impossibility or a danger. Let your learners use their imaginations, but keep a sharp eye on their choices. As soon as the room is ready, go to the door and tell Persons A to blindfold Persons B and lead them in.

  2. Ask Persons A to grab hold of the arm or shirtsleeve of their blindfolded partners.

  3. Tell the teams that there are fabulous prizes scattered throughout the room, and it is their job to collect as many as they can within 3 minutes. The hitch: Each pair must remain physically connected at all times. Persons B, who are blindfolded, will lead. Persons B are the only ones who can actually pick up the treats, which they will then hand over to their partners. They can only confirm in yes or no answers that any questions their partners ask them. ("Should I move to the left?" or "Will I hit something if I go too many steps?"). The other learners can shout out helpful suggestions about where to look. (Tell them this will increase the chance that the grateful team members will share their booty). Give teams 3 minutes to gather their candies.

  4. Blow the whistle to begin the game.

  5. After 3 minutes, blow the whistle again. Ask each pair to count the number of candies they collected.

  6. Tell the team it is time for Round 2. This time, Persons A give as detailed directions as they like to their partners. Blow the whistle, let them go for 3 minutes, then call time. Persons B can now remove their blindfolds, and the teams return to their seats. Again, count the number of candies collected. See who got the most fabulous prizes and give them a cheer. Let the teams hand out candies to anyone who helped them.

Debriefing/ Discussion Questions:
Key Point: This game symbolized how fear affects our efforts to go after what we want. Person A was the part of us with the information; Person B was the physical symbol of fear, bound intrinsically to the partner; the treats represented goals we want to achieve in life. Almost any new endeavor involves some fear- fear of failure, change, the unknown. Fear always slows us down, makes us move more cautiously, so it can rightly be called a "drag" on our movements. But sometimes we drag our fears around, and sometimes we let it drag us around. In the first round, fear was in control. In the second, we were still attached to our fear but this time our intellect was in control.

  1. To Persons A: What was it like for you in the first round when you could only respond to your partner's questions? How effective were you in getting toward your goal of collecting candy? In which round did you collect more candy?

  2. To Persons A: What were your thoughts and feelings during the game? Anyone feel frustrated by having to drag around your partner? Did you think, "Come on, it's easy?" Have you ever looked back on a past fear and thought, "Why was I afraid? It was easy"? Was there anything that you said to your partner in this game that could be useful if you said it to yourself in real life?

  3. To Persons B: What were your thoughts and feelings during the game? How did it feel to wear the blindfold? What thoughts and feelings did you experience as you moved around? [Learners will probably observe that they felt helpless, out of control, frustrated].

  4. What did you wish your partner could have said to help you navigate your way? How would this have helped?

  5. To the class as a whole: How did the blindfold affect the pairs? What did you notice about the way the pairs interacted with each other the first time? The second time?

  6. When you are in a new situation, do you ever feel as if you are blindfolded?

  7. How does fear in real life get in the way of our ability to achieve our goals?

  8. Why do we drag around fear in our real life? What if anything does fear do to us? [Most learners will probably answer that fear protects us from making dangerous decisions. Ask it is fear that protects us or simply intelligence and common sense].

  9. Would you be doing anything differently in your life or in your job if you weren't afraid? Do you think your fear is valid or not? KEY POINT: Are you dragging your fear around, or is it dragging you?

Tamblyn, D., Weiss, S. (2000). The Big Book of Humorous Training Games. New York. McGraw- Hill. P 114-117.

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