Give Pupils The Red Carpet Treatment

Do we treat children as VIPs?

Children are VIPs.

The point is, we are all very important people but as a society we elevate some folks over others, especially sports stars and actors.

When a blockbusting new film comes out then there is normally a red carpet event for the ‘Premiere’. This is a big thing and security are called in to protect the walk-way and ‘ordinary’ people are kept at a distance.

Then there are the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, Grammys…you name it, there’s a red carpet rolled out for them too. The ‘stars’ dress-up and walk down the carpet doing interviews and answering questions along the way. They feel very wanted, loved and important.

But the ‘celebs’ have got to be ready to answer these questions as what they say will be seized upon.

Red carpet events are all about active listening and having at least some ready-made answers even if you don’t know what will be said.

What’s all this got to do with teaching?

Well, in Engaging Learners by Andy Griffith and Mark Burns they suggest playing a red carpet game. It’s a simple but brilliant speaking and listening exercise because you re-enact a red carpet event. I’m sure children will be familiar with them but show a few clips of some to get the feel of them and what goes on.

Someone volunteers to be the ‘star’. This isn’t normally a problem as everyone wants their moment of glory. They think walk down a fictitious red carpet and answer questions posed by their classmates who act as reporters for a TV channel, magazine, newspaper. This is best played out in the hall or outside and done for just a few minutes per ‘star’ so as many pupils as possible get the chance.

It enables children to get to know each other better and to improve their communication skills. Questions can be off the cuff but having them prepared before-hand works more effectively, especially when children know who they will be interviewing.

So split children into small groups of 6, one person is the ‘star’ and the other are reporters who get their heads together to think of suitable questions.

The questions pupils ask will need to be related to a fictitious movie or a film they know and the ‘star’ takes on the role of one of the actors in the actual film. These can be general questions too.

There is a serious side to this too because some actors seem to get asked different questions based on their gender. Alanna Vagianos says, “On  the red carpet, women celebrities often get the “rabbit food” questions, which means that essentially they’re only asked about what they eat and what they wear.”

Alanna points to Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls” which launched a campaign called #SmartGirlsAsk to avoid asking the ‘air-head’ questions on the red carpet and generate more meaningful and intellectual conversations instead.

Watching the clip above helps children to realise how different actors are treated and that asking questions is a real skill. Share with the them the old Chinese proverb which says, “the quality of your life depends upon the quality of your questions.”

The real stars of the red carpet are actually the people asking the questions. A star interviewer can shine by asking interesting, thought provoking, original questions that prompt exciting and unique replies.

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