Theme G & I
There is a child inside each of us and surely
we have all had a childhood.
How was it? Looking at one's childhood is a very exciting
way to understand and respect others.
This is a discussion activity particularly
suited to multi-cultural groups
but it can also be used with any other group.
• Equality and diversity
• The cultural similarities and
differences between people
• The so-called "cultural
differences" are not only cultural, but also economic,
social and political.
• To learn about the different
ways each of us has grown up.
• To understand the social and
economic differences which underlie each person and society.
• To generate empathy and understanding
between the members of the group.
Group size: Any
Nothing special, but the group should have
already been working together.
1. Explain the purpose and aims of the activity.
2. Ask people to get into groups of 4 to
6 to talk about what they did during their childhood. Suggested
• At what age did you first go
• Who else lived in your family?
• Did you attend Sunday school
or have some other kind of religious education?
• Did you work when you were
• What kind of tales or games
did you like to play?
• Which were your favourite?
• Did you have to take care of
your brothers and sisters?
Debriefing and evaluation
Ask the participants to say what they found
interesting in this exercise and then to compare the different
sorts of childhoods they had and the relative influences
the prevailing social and political environment had on them.
Ask people to reflect on their own childhood
and say whether they think all children in their own neighbourhood
had the same childhood experiences?
Tips for the facilitator
The main purpose of this simple group activity
is to make participants realise that not everybody has the
same chances in life and that even though they are perhaps
neighbours they were growing up under different conditions.
Furthermore, it fosters the understanding that difference
does not come only from the colour of skin or religion.
Beware! This exercise should not be turned
into a session for false psycho-analysis. Its purpose is
simply to notice that, because of our families' background,
the social and economic conditions, the place where we were
born or where we moved to, we have different experiences
and perceptions of life and the world around us. These conditions
may influence the difference as much as culture does. In
fact they are a part of our culture, just as much as religion,
language or skin colour.
The type of questions addressed in the evaluation
and debriefing have to be adapted to the type of people
in the group, for example, there is no point asking how
did it feel having a different colour of skin if everyone
No one should feel under pressure to disclose
anything that would make them feel uncomfortable.
The activity can be made livelier if the
participants illustrate their comments with photos or drawings.
Suggestions for follow up
'My Childhood' combines
very well with the activity 'My Story'
which involves identifying key public events and asking
what were you doing or where were you living when this or
that event happened?
If you want to look further at relationships
within the family and how attitudes may vary according to
role and age try 'Guess who's coming to
If you want to explore at how every child's
future depends on the social and economic circumstances
in which they grow up, then look at 'Horoscope
of poverty' in Compass.