In a farmer field school, we often have activities where farmers work in groups. Rather than having the participants working alone, we make them work in a team. With good teamwork the work gets done in a shorter period, the outputs will be better and the work spirit will increase. Gradually it will help to empower all the members of the group, as nobody is left to struggle alone.
The exercise “List As Many Objects As You Can” demonstrates the advantages of working together.
- To demonstrate the advantage of working in groups.
- 30 minutes
- Poster paper or piece of cloth
- Notebook and pen
- Twenty-five small objects (for example: pen, paper clip, stone, cup, bulb, flower, soap, tomato, spoon, comb, 5 Taka note, plastic bag, leaf, carrot, etc.)
- Make sure that the participants don’t see the objects.
- Put the 25 objects on a small table and cover them with papers (or a piece of cloth) so that they cannot be seen.
- Invite the participants (maximum 25 persons in a group) to stand around the table.
- Ask the participants to be quiet and attentive.
- Remove the paper or the cloth for exactly one minute so that the participants can see the objects.
- Cover the objects again to make them invisible to the participants.
- Now ask each of the participants to write down, within 3 minutes, as many items as they can recall. No discussion between participants is allowed.
- Ask who was able to list more items (but don’t let them talk or mention the objects)
- Now ask the participants to work in pairs, and give them again 3 minutes to complete the task.
- Ask which pair was able to list more items.
- Finally, ask them to work in groups of 5 persons and give them 3 minutes to do the same.
If there is a time constraint then the work in pairs (points 9 and 10) can be omitted.
Some guidelines for discussion
- Were you able to list more items when you worked alone or when you worked in pairs?
- Was it even better to work in a bigger group of 5 persons?
- Why is this so?
- Ask if they can give some examples of their own experience, which shows that group work has advantages.
- Try to relate this exercise to growing a crop. Ask if they think it is better to work in teams rather than working alone.
- Ask how the FFS can benefit from group work? Discuss how group work can continue after the FFS (e.g. in a farmer club).
This activity requires the farmers to write. In an FFS which includes illiterate farmers it is still possible to do the exercise, but make sure that illiterate people are teamed together with a person who can write.