The Other Side

A creative look at perspective

Type of Initiative:  Problem Solving, Perspective Awareness

Published in:   Setting the Conflict Compass, by Michelle Cummings with Mike Anderson

Purpose:  This activity is designed to stimulate conversation about how there are always two sides to every story.

Props Needed:  At least one copy of the book The Other Side by Istvan Banyai, two is better.  The reason for two is that some of the pages are 'better' than others for this activity.  There are 10 or so great pages for perspective in the book, so if you have a group larger than 20 people, I recommend two or more books.

Group Size:  1–40

Directions:  The Other Side by Istvan Banyai is a visually dynamic and exciting book. There are few words in this book, but colorful graphic designs on each page offer intimate perspectives on the same scene. Each illustration in the book has another side. As you turn each page over, you will be surprised by the unique perspective on "the other side." The illustrations are amusing, thought-provoking, and surprising. The book is like a kaleidoscope—each page a reflection of the whole, yet showing a different angle and aspect.

The Other Side will have participants wanting to look, and think, twice.  For example, one page of the book has a picture of several paper airplanes flying out of an apartment window and the other side of the page shows a boy inside an apartment releasing a flurry of origami planes out of the window. The very next page shows a jet flying over a city, and 'the other side' shows its seated, bored passengers.

To make this book into a conflict resolution activity:

Carefully cut the pages out of the book and laminate them or use sheet protectors.  We highly recommend protecting the pages or it will be a one-time use activity. The activity takes anywhere from 10–15 minutes to complete. By the time someone handles a piece of paper that long, it will be wrinkled, folded, rolled, or torn if it is unprotected.

Process:

  • Invite your participants to find a partner.
  • Slide one page of the book in between each pair.  Try to distribute the pages to each pair so that each person in the pair only sees one side of the page.
  • Have players closely examine their side of the picture for all of the details. Let them know that they are NOT to show their picture to their partner.
  • Instruct players to discuss what is happening on their side of the page and then to listen to their partner’s perspective from their page.
  • Have each pair try to determine what event or story is taking place.
  • After several minutes of discussion, allow participants to reveal their pictures to their partner and discuss the differences in the perspective of ‘the other side.’

Debriefing Topics:

It is helpful for participants to debrief with their partner before debriefing with the large group.  Ask the pairs to discuss the following questions:

  • How was your perspective different from your partner’s?
  • Were you open to hearing the perspective of your partner’s page?
  • If you were in a conflict with your partner, how difficult would it be to hear his/her perspective?
  • How did you communicate your page to your partner?
  • What type of communication did you use to describe your perspective?
  • What would happen if you openly listened in a conflict as you did in this activity?
  • Why is it important to consider ‘the other side’ and another perspective?

After participants have debriefed in small groups, invite them to sit or stand in a large circle with their partner and their page of the book.  Allow them to briefly describe their page and the different perspective on ‘the other side’ as well as any learning discovered in their small-group discussion.

About the Author of The Other Side

Istvan Banyai, the acclaimed Hungarian-born creator of Zoom and Re-Zoom and illustrator of several other books for children, is also well known for his editorial illustrations, which have been published in The New Yorker and Rolling Stone, among other journals. His perspective, always unexpected (sometimes even to him), has made him one of the most original and iconoclastic illustrators today. He lives in New York and Connecticut.

Purchase from the Training Wheels store: Setting the Conflict Compass

This book can be purchased through Amazon.com or half.com.  It is published by Chronicle Books, www.chroniclebooks.com, ISBN-10: 0811846083 ISBN-13: 978-0811846080.  It recently went out of print or we would carry it in the Training Wheels store, but there are still multiple copies available online.

Material in this Online Games Database is copyrighted.  Copyright ©  Training Wheels or by the author who submitted the activity.  Permission needed to copy or reproduce.