If we’re all truthful, we all know that gossip can be a fun, fast, easy way to make a connection to people around us…but the effects often leave you feeling like you totally lost sight of your integrity and your words can have limitless damaging impact. It’s kind of like fast food; it doesn’t fill you up. Those connections you make based on gossip, are not really friendships or relationships. Once the gossip is gone, so is the friendship. Not only does gossip hurt those you talk about, but gossip also totally destroys your credibility and trustworthiness.
- On the board, write the word:”gossip.” Ask students to read the word and define what it means. As they share out, make sure to record their responses.
- Depending on the composition of your class, you can teach this a whole group using a ‘contest’ format (with two or three teams performing the task simultaneously) or by doing a demonstration using a small group of students.
- Set up the task and the hook: Line the students up in a row and tell them that you have $20 (or any amount in your wallet) for anyone who is able to complete the following mission.
- Explain the task: The students have to pass glitter from one person to the next one down the line until the glitter reaches the end. In order to get the money, they have to do it within 5 minutes (or a specified time frame).
- Rules: No glitter on the floor. No glitter on their clothes. No glitter on the desks. And certainly, no glitter left on their hands! No water is allowed for hand washing, either!
- Naturally, this is a hopeless endeavour…students are going to fail. And that’s the point! As you might imagine, glitter goes everywhere and it is very sticky…like gossip!
- Ask the students to put their heads on their desks
a.) if they’ve ever had a gossip or a rumor spread about them or b) they’ve ever heard a rumor about someone else. Usually, just about every hand goes up
Once the students have cleaned up the glitter, you can have a discussion to reflect upon the activity. Here are some topics/questions to prompt the discussion:
- Glitter and gossip are similar. How? Describe glitter (shiny, messy, fun, sticky, annoying, everywhere, hard to get off)
- Have you ever had a time you gossiped? How did it feel in the moment? How did it feel afterward?
- Have you ever found out that you were the focus of gossip? How did it make you feel in the moment and afterward? How did it affect your friendships and trust? How did it affect the way you presented yourself to the world (closed up or wide open and vulnerable)? In order to make lasting friendships, we have to be able to be a little vulnerable with one another; closing up makes that impossible to do. What might the reprecussions be on making friends in the future or to your overall loneliness?
- Now that we’re aware of how far-reaching and damaging gossip can be, what are some ways that we can prevent being a part of gossip or perpetuating it?