TALKING HEADS Skills
Thinking, Decision-Making, Problem-Solving
Working with Others
What is it? Any pupil who is familiar with the novel ‘Lord of the Flies’ will know about the conch.
Whoever was holding the conch could talk uninterrupted without fear of being shouted down.
This activity, likewise, offers pupils the chance to give their thoughts, ideas and opinions on
an issue without being interrupted. It also focuses on the active listening skills of pupils. See
Stick Debate for a similar activity.
Implications for classroom layout The facilitator may wish to seat pupils in a circle or semi-circle. The room must therefore
have enough space to allow for this. Alternatively, pupils could still sit at their desks and the
facilitator could pass the conch to people who wish to speak.
How does it work? 1. A suitable object is identified as the talking tool. Ideas for a suitable object might include
objects with heads (hence the title) such as a cuddly toy (obviously depending on the age and
interests of the pupils!!) or a puppet. A hat which pupils can put on when it is their turn may
be an alternative.
2. Pupils hold discussions around a particular issue. The only person who is allowed to talk is
the person holding the talking tool.
3. It is advisable not to simply pass the object around one person at a time. Some pupils might
be thinking so much about what they are going to say when their turn comes that they do not
listen to what is being said by others. This activity will not work as effectively if pupils feel
nervous or even intimidated. The object could be placed in a central place and returned there
once people have finished speaking so that somebody else can pick it up.
4. Pupils should instead be encouraged to listen carefully to what is being said and then, if
they wish, to comment constructively and progressively, thus enhancing their active-listening