Memory

Our twist on this classic game challenges students to explore how different variables (race, sexual orientation, hobbies, family dynamics, religion, etc.) come together to form a person’s identity.

In the traditional “Memory” game, pairs of cards with matching symbols are placed face-down in a grid. Players are asked to find sets of matching cards. Every time a player takes a turn, they flip over any two cards. If the cards match, the player keeps them and selects two more. This continues until the player can no longer match two cards. If the cards do not match, the player flips them back over. The point is to remember the location of cards so a match can be made on the player’s next turn.

Our twist:

Cut some index cards in half and distribute several to each of your students (if you have a small class feel free to give them each 6 or 8, if your class is larger give them each less).

Ask students to write one true thing about themselves on each of their cards. Suggest students pick from the following categories:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Hair color
  • Sexual orientation
  • Political leanings
  • Where they were born
  • What their hobbies are
  • What music, art, movies, books they like
  • Personality traits

Add several pre-prepared cards that include your own ideas – including different races, religions, talents, physical attributes, and other fun, random ideas.

Collect the cards and arrange them face down in a grid on a table or the floor. Pick someone to go first and have the student flip over two cards. The student only gets to keep the cards if BOTH cards say something true about them. The true cards DO NOT need to be ones that that particular student wrote themselves.

Debrief:
Below you will find a list of questions that students can choose to ask people who make a match. We hope these questions will act as conversation starters about both understanding and respecting people’s unique and varied identities.

  • Are you particularly proud of either of these two elements of yourself?
  • If someone called the things on your cards… if someone called you a _________________ (ex. A Jewish nerd) how would you feel?
  • Is there anything about these two facets of your identity you feel the need to clarify?
  • Do you think people misunderstand these elements of your identity? That they have preconceived notions as to what it means to be x?
  • What did you learn about yourself or others through these cards?
  • How would your life be different if one or both of these things were not true about you?
  • How embarrassed are you by one or both of these facts about yourself?
  • How proud are you about one or both of these facts about yourself?
  • Do you feel the need to defy stereotypes surrounding certain truths about yourself, like your race or sexual orientation, to feel good about yourself?
  • If you could make it such that one or both of these things were not true about you, would you?
  • Do you know other people who have both those traits?

Respect for All:

After the game is completed, open a conversation about “Respect for All” by asking students:

  • Was there a time during the game when you felt respected? Did you identify a quality about yourself that you thought other group members would judge, only to be surprised when they didn’t?
  • Was there a time during the game when you did notfeel respected? Did group members ever make comments about your identity – your unique set of qualities – that showed a lack of respect? How did this make you feel?
  • Was there a time during the game when you chose not to pick up a card that you would have identified with? Without revealing which card you avoided, why did you choose not to pick up the card?

Variations:

After the game is completed, you can also:

  • Ask Students to rank their pile of cards from “most important” to “least important.” What does this reveal about the priority you place on certain aspects of your identity?
  • Ask students to separate their cards into “My Choice” and “Chosen for Me” piles. For example, a student may say that being a democrat is “my choice,” but having blonde hair was “chosen for me.” What do these piles reveal not only about our identity, but also about the reasons we should respect each other

We hope that, through this game, students will begin to think about how things like their race or their religion are big parts of who they are, but that they are not simply the sum of their parts. We are so much more than the categories we fall into. A building block towards true respect for others is understanding that people are so much more than just a collection of stereotypical categories!