Icebreakers – The theory.

My previous post garnered some rather derisive comments, and I being a rather strong believer in well executed ice-breakers thought they needed some defending.

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Against the claim that everybody knows why they are there…
A) Not everybody knows why they are there, in fact most people don’t, except that it is a subject they are required to do to get their degree. In fact I ask them that very question and the answer is quite often silence. Why silence, why not Yes or No? Because, besides the extroverts nobody else feels comfortable stating their opinion, thoughts or ideas… why? I don’t know – I’ve always been an ‘extrovert’ in this confined context!
The only people to get anything out of icebreakers are extroverts…
B) Extroverts get very little out of icebreakers because without the icebreaker, they would participate in calss anyway. It is the introvert that gets the most out of icebreakers. When icebreakers are effectively executed the participants persuade the introvert out of the shell, once out of its shell the introvert will find that the environment they are in is actually quite comfortable. Hence, the introvert is more likely to contribute in class in future because they know it is a safe environment.
Against the claim that icebreakers create trauma…
C) If an icebreaker creates trauma, it must not be a very good icebreaker. Whilst an introvert may feel a little social trauma at first, a good icebreaker will develop in stages to ‘persuade’ the introvert out of the shell, rather then forcing them out. Hence, the search for ‘good’ icebreakers…
Against the claim that we should ‘Just get on with it’…
D) Getting on with it is inevitable hard when few people are willing to participate in class. When getting on with it involves participation, discussion, and student contribution, you can’t really ‘get on with it’ until you have made the students feel safe and comfortable, until you have reduced the pressure for only the ‘correct’ answer and have persuaded students that you arrive at the best answer through debate. Hence, you can’t really ‘get on with it’ until you get on with the icebreaker.
Against the claim that i should just tell them about how bad an accountant I was when I was 9…
E) Self humiliation is a very effective icebreaker and is practiced by myself (You should have seen my imitation of donuts floating down the processing line) and quite a few tutors and lecturers at UTS School of Accounting.

4 thoughts on “Icebreakers – The theory.

  1. I was going to add something intellectual to your ice breaker argument, but I got bored before reading all of it and forgot what the argument was half way down. May I suggest dot point?Bryan

  2. It was just a “welcome meeting”. You talked about the busses and where to buy stamps and things like that. I dont think your accent is brittish anymore, you and Alex were the first Aussie people Ive met so I couldnt tell the difference. But I think you should spend more time in the bushes, go see your family!! It woulndt hurt you…Im glad you stole everyone away, otherwise I wouldnt have talked to you:)

  3. Hmm, I don’t remember that class and why was I talking!? Are you still cut that me and Alex stole everybody away from you and Sona when we had Pizza that time… 😛 Hehe. Gosh. I so know you said my accent sounded Brittish just to annoy me. its so not Brittish, although I must admit I need to spend some more time back in the bush…But yes, the Hitler thing was a bit much…

  4. Just got a flash back from Canada when a read your post. It was the first meeting for the exchange students, I was a bit late cause my class ended at the same time as the meeting started. I sat in the back and I was so annoyed with this boy who kept on talking and talking. He was a real smart arse and I thought “why dont you change place with the teatcher Mr. know-it-all” He had a really annoying accent to, almost brittish… So once again I prove to you that I dont like you for the accent. But I still think you can be a smart arse,you Hitler accuser! ;)Haha!

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