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Is It Just A Game? Uno Uncovered
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 09/07/2015

Cards sevens


The following is an installment in "The Bouchard 101", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

Division is everywhere. We do not always get along. And in corrections, this is more than just a disappointment. Fighting between colleagues means danger in the facilities.

All is not lost. The dangers that come with staff division are repaired with an atmosphere of teamwork.

What is teamwork? It is when at least two people work together for the same goal. For example, the goal can be to get from one place to another. Teamwork is achieved when one person drives the vehicle and another gives directions to the driver. Teamwork can be as simple a two person team collaborating to change a flat tire. Or it can be as involved as a multi-year, multi-nation war effort.

Whether it is just two colleagues or hundreds of millions of people, teamwork can be defined in very few words: support, help, collaboration, joint effort, cooperation, solidarity and assistance.

Think of a world without teamwork. Civilization as we know it would not exist. There would be no scientific advances. Language would be an individual thing. There would be no culture transmitted. The family unit would not exist in the sense that we are familiar with. It would be a dog eat dog world. The human race, if not wiped out, would be reduced to individual animals.

Corrections would be a mess without teamwork. The state inside our facilities would be complete anarchy. One of the common goals of corrections is to keep offenders, staff and the public safe at all times. Helping one another in corrections is not just a nice gesture. It can mean the preservation of life.

This exercise is a demonstration of the dynamics that can occur between two teams of two people. Both teams have the same goal of winning a prize. They compete at the simple card game called Uno. (Crazy Eights or War are games that can be substituted by using a standard deck of cards.) It is a four person game and everyone is seated across from their partner. Of course, in this simple card game, only one person can win the game. However, in this version, if your partner wins, you also win.

First you need to announce the prize. The facilitator can obtain a small prize. A candy bar is an example of an inexpensive prize that is still desirable.

Next, you explain the very simple rules to everyone from the rules card. This is a common game and is easily learned for those few who may never have played it previously.

Next, you explain to the non-players that they are to watch the players and assess how the teamwork unfolded.

(Note: Uno is a card game produced by Mattel.)

Questions - Is It Just A Game? Uno Uncovered


Observers can be asked the following questions. Of course, the questions are not rigid. The observers may guide the course of the post mortem. And in many ways you will see additional teamwork among the observers. One comment, for example, can serve as a platform for the following assertions.
  • Which team looked most united?
  • Was there any obvious strategy?
  • Was there table banter?
  • Did you observe any signals between team members?
  • Was there a sense of competition?
  • What role did the prize play in this competition?


Joe Bouchard is a Librarian employed with the Michigan Department of Corrections and a collaborator with The International Association of Correctional Training Personnel (IACTP). He is also the author of “IACTP’s Corrections Icebreakers: The Bouchard 101, 2014”. The installments in this series include his opinions. The agency for which he works is not in any way responsible for the content or accuracy of this material, and the views are those of the contributor and not necessarily those of the agency. While some material is influenced by other works, all of the icebreakers have been developed by Joe Bouchard.

Visit the Joe Bouchard page

Other articles by Bouchard:


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