Pioneer Peace Pack Activity 4 - War Detectives

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Aim of the activity:
The first exercise looks at bias in media reporting of conflict and war situations. The second is an open-ended opportunity for Pioneers to gain a deeper understanding of a particular conflict situation.

What you will need:
Paper and pens;
A range of newspaper cuttings on a given theme (Iraq, the Middle East, etc.) You should have both tabloids and broadsheets, and cuttings offering different perspectives (eg, The Times, the Mirror, the Express and the Guardian);
Two different coloured felt tip pens or highlighters for each pair of Pioneers;
Books, magazine articles, encyclopaedias, atlases, internet access, library access.
Copies of the WORKSHEET (download from the foot of the page)

Suggested warm-up:

Fact or opinion

Give each Pioneer two slips of paper and a pen. On the first slip of paper they should write a fact about someone else in the group. Collect these in.

On the second piece of paper ask the Pioneers to write an opinion about someone else in the group – stress that these should be positive and should not be statements which might cause any upset to anyone. Collect these in an keep in a separate pile.

Read out each of the ‘facts’ in turn and get the group to guess who it refers to. Then read out the ‘opinions’. See if the group can guess who these refer to.

At the end, discuss with the group why it was easier to identify people from the facts which were given about them than from other peoples opinions.

Sherlock Holmes

Ask everyone in the group to think of a historical figure or a famous fictional character. They should write down six things that person would have in his/her pocket or purse. Take it in turns to read out the list and let the others guess who the person is.


Main activities:

Fact or opinion

Adapted from: Save the Children’s Eye to Eye project resources.
Divide the group into pairs, giving each pair two different coloured pens and one or more newspaper cuttings.

Ask each pair to mark all the facts in the article in one colour (using the same colour each time) and all the opinions in another colour.

Put all the sheets on the wall and discuss the Pioneers' findings.

Do articles display more fact or opinion?
Is it always easy to distinguish fact from opinion?
To what extent do the opinions shape readers' feelings?
Do the Pioneers feel that stirring readers' emotions is justified?
Does the analysis that they have carried out make them feel any differently about the story?
What responsibilities do the Pioneers feel the media has to present unbiased reports?
Why do we expect newspapers to give us "facts"?
Draw up a list of all the emotive words that are used in the articles. Are some words repeatedly linked to particular groups or individuals? What do the Pioneers think the effects of this would be?


War detectives

Divide the Pioneers into groups of four or five. Explain that they are going to be investigators looking into a war.

First, each group must choose the war it is going to find out about. It may be a contemporary or historical conflict.

Give each group a piece of paper and an envelope. Ask the groups to brainstorm and write down everything they already know about their chosen war. Put these sheets into the envelopes, seal and hand in to the leader.

Give each group copies of the WORKSHEET. Then ask them to begin their investigation. Taking the group to the local library for an evening is a good outing and you should have internet access there too. Alternatively you will need to supply a range of information for them to work from so you will probably need to ask the group to choose their wars one week to allow you to collect and bring along research material the following week.

The investigations can be continued at home during the week. The following week each group should make a presentation of its findings. The envelopes can be given back out and the group can review their initial thoughts. How much of the brainstormed information turned out to be true? 

WORKSHEET - Pioneer Peace Pack - War Detectives.doc19.5 KB