Group-Think (2020-) is a hybrid sports/educational programme that seeks to expand the current formal educational programme at schools by implementing training techniques in nonviolent civil protest, first aid, and collective intelligence skills.
This educational programme, which could be implemented as part of a sports, art, or other class involving physical activity, consists of a series of exercises that stimulate collective intelligence, patience, preparedness, good reflexes, violence prevention, urban resilience, verbal negotiation, responsibility, resistance, coping strategies, first aid, and group safety in protest gatherings.
Group-Think supports young people’s discussions and concerns about social and educational inequality by creating a sports platform that strives to strengthen their individual and collective political consciousness, as well as deepen the public’s understanding of what young people, collectives, and protest stakeholders need.
As an addition to current sports programmes in schools, Group-Think seeks to introduce a creative sports programme with exercises that connect individual and group minds in order to heighten solidarity, improvisation, and thinking skills. Group-Think aims at preparing young people to take care of themselves and others through collective actions. By training students in collective intelligence, solidarity, resilience, self-care and community-care, they’ll be able to better protect each other in mass gatherings.
Group-Think would like to create a positive image about mass intelligence. In his 1972 book Victims of Groupthink, the social psychologist Irving L. Janis coined the term ‘groupthink’, which also had negative connotations. It is actually a very loaded term, describing both an instinctive and rationalized conformity that humans are prone to fall (and fail) into. Group-Think reclaims this word (with a dash) as a potential for civic action against injustice and regards this ‘fast decision-making’, ‘consensus-seeking’ and ‘irrationality’ in a group as a way to achieve safety in protest. By training these group processes, the exercises challenge the idea of the individual (leader-hero) as the focal point and instigator of action. When a huge mass of people decides to take to the street, it is never a sole individual initiating this. In these exercises there are no ‘winners’ or ‘losers’, as in normal sports activities; rather, they introduce the students to the idea of the individual as a colony of microbes.
Especially in uncertain and stressful situations, making fast decisions with many others can be crucial. Similarly to cell colonies, the students learn in Group-Think to tune into each others’ impulses, weaknesses, and senses in order to ultimately reflect, strengthen, and develop their own chemical and physical signals.