In my last post I discussed how I use Tales videos in the first module of my conflict management course, which focuses on conflict within one’s self. Now I would like to describe the use of Tales videos in the second module, which focuses on interpersonal conflict. Keeping in mind that the Tales videos emerged from a course in intercultural communication, I continue to be happily surprised that there are quite a few Tales videos that will provide illustrative examples for discussions about conflict!
“A Cultural Deal” involves a Finnish woman, ironically played in this video by a Dutch girl, embarking to Italy to close a business deal with an Italian man. Without revealing any spoilers, the video brings forward certain values and behaviours commonly associated with Finnish and Italian people, and the resulting contrast in behaviours and expectations of the two characters places the deal at risk. This provides for a good discussion about how to anticipate such incidents through the development of cultural awareness, and also how to deal with such incidents if they do occur. In the classroom we often use “A Cultural Deal” to introduce the concept of critical incidents and how to interpret them. More on that in a future blog post.
In “Clash of Cultures” we see a situation where a Russian girl interacts with a Finnish boy, and the results are disappointing for both. Both characters feel uncomfortable with the incident and find recovering from it to be quite challenging. The boy receives advice from a friend and also seeks out the advice of a professional, the school psychologist. There is an unexpected development in the form of a particularly non-stereotypical view of Finnish behaviour, but perhaps you can can find this yourself! When student producers are creating characters, they sometimes find it necessary to play up stereotypes as a means to bring vibrancy to a story. But we often encourage the students to add something to a character that goes against commonly held stereotypes of his or her culture. We encourage this to generate discussions about stereotypes. If you believe that you found the example in this video send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will confirm whether you were correct!
In “Lisa’s Acceptance” we see a situation in which two individuals find themselves attracted to each other. Like in many such romantic circumstances, the development can be unexpected, and also may create mixed and conflicted feelings, both within themselves and between each other. The story takes a dramatic turn when passions reach a climax, and what follows is left to the viewer’s imagination regarding whether and how the two were able to sort things out.
All three of these Tales videos are perfectly suited to exploring how conflicts arise and how to deal with them. “A Cultural Deal” presents a complete story, as does “Clash of Cultures.” This means that there are three clear parts, a beginning, middle, and end. And there is much for students to think about and discuss. However, in “Lisa’s Acceptance” the ending is left open and we often encourage students to create open-ended endings. This is so that the teacher can ask his or her students not only about why they believe things happened, but also what they believe the possible outcomes might be. Oftentimes the students will present more than one plausible possible outcome. This enriches the both the discussion and the learning outcomes.
“A Cultural Deal”
“Clash of Cultures”
Steve Crawford, Tales coach and senior lecturer