The Silent Discussion

Involved & Inclusive
Involved & Inclusive

This is a useful activity to introduce themes and issues of integration and assimilation. It works well in giving everyone, even those who don’t like to talk in front of groups, a chance to participate.


  • Integration cartoon (OR other image/slogan/cartoon/quote)
  • Several pieces of flipchart or large paper to cover a portion of the wall
  • Masking tape
  • Markers


You can also explain that racism is a sensitive issue and needs to be dealt with by an audience that is willing to do all the things that enabled them to untangle the circle, otherwise your work will lead the group to get frustrated and confused.


  1. Have the group sit in a U-shape facing the wall. Place the cartoon in the middle of the U.
  2. Explain to the group that no one is allowed to talk during this activity.
  3.  Give the group a minute to look at and think about the image.
  4. Invite participants to put their thoughts/opinions/ideas on the paper on the wall, and to respond to/argue about/disagree with things other people have written. But this must be done without speaking!
  5. Explain that more than one person can be writing at a time.
  6. Ensure that nobody speaks during this process.


  • Adapt this activity to a specific issue or group by using a different image.


  • There are no foreseeable safety concerns for this activity.


Discuss briefly how participants felt about the silent discussion. As a group, talk out any issues that arose during the silent discussion. Think of some questions beforehand that you can ask the group if discussion is lagging, for example:

  • Have you, or someone you know, ever had to change to “fit in”?
  • When is this an okay thing?
  • When is this not a good thing, in your opinion?

Adapted from: The Kit: A Manual by Youth to Combat Racism Through Education. eXchange by YouthREX.

Originally sourced from: Grassroots and Growing: 1996 Youth Commission, M. Nawaz. Canadian Red Cross Society, 1996.