Courses / Euro-Mediterranean / Preventing Violent Extremism

Visual Facilitation – an Innovation in Discussing Complex Topics

This post is part of the group contribution and best practices shared during the Euro-Mediterranean Training Course: Youth Work Preventing Violent Extremism, implemented by the Association of Human Rights Educators AHEAD from the 14th till the 21st October 2018 in Comarruga (Tarragona).


It’s not easy to discuss topics like migration, cultural differences and violent extremism in a smooth and constructive way. There are lot of films and media clips about those topics, some mild, some rough to see. After seeing an emotional clip on social media, it is common place to send clips to people like yourself so those clips can become viral. This is how hate speech distributes, quite mindlessly.

What if we take a moment and discuss critically a clip before it goes out? What if a youth worker takes up a controversial topic such as violent extremism in a youth group? What if the wisdom of youth and himself / herself is used to deconstruct videos of propaganda, hate speech, political and religious manipulation?

Will that help to foster critical thinking skills of youth, making them less vulnerable to influence that could lead to troubling, worrisome or alarming behavior? If done skillfully – yes, a youth worker can help youth to become critical thinkers and mindful users of media, incl social media. If done in a clumsy way – oh, it could fuel stereotypical, superficial and harmful patterns of thought.

Visual facilitation of discussion of films and media clips is an innovative way to deeper understanding. One such film we discussed with visual facilitation was “Listen”, a 10-minute dramatic treatment on what happens if a mother with a teenage son arrives at a Western police station to seek for help. Police officers are not able to communicate in their language, so an interpreter is used. This is where it gets rough…

A moment from the discussion of the film "Listen"

Excerpt of the worksheet by Uku Visnapuu

A group of youth sector activists, educators and youth leaders participated very actively in the visually facilitated discussion and told the following:

  • “I learned not to assume based on my personal experience, I need to try to be more objective”;
  • “I noted that refugees are not only facing problems from the country they moved to but also their internal problems that are not being solved by the hosting countries.”
  • “I would use this method (film “Listen” (Denmark / Finland, 2014) + worksheet); with policemen, children, youngsters from vulnerable communities to discuss topics like human rights, nonviolent communication, islamophobia, religion and citizenship.”
  • “There is a big problem when “private things remain private”, which prevents victims from asking help and potential helps from intervening”
  • “I will adopt the method of visual facilitation to use with my films and my target groups”

Compiled by participants Ilvars Rungis, Artemi Sintsov and Uku Visnapuu visual facilitator, leader of the session. Further reading: tools and handbooks on visual facilitation
Photos: Ljubov Lissina and Artemi Sintsov.



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