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To Alien-ate
By Joe Bouchard
Published: 02/05/2018

Alien leader The following is an installment in "Icebreakers 101: Hello, My Name is Problem", a series featuring "Ice Breaker's" designed to promote training awareness and capabilities in the corrections industry.

Did you ever wish that you had a super power? Do you wonder what it would be like to be an alien? Do you ever think of ways that you could gain an edge on the job? If so, consider this icebreaker is a great introduction to any safety module. It is out of left field, but harnesses the universal notion of safety as the most important part of the corrections profession.

To those who think that life is not diverse, consider the duck-billed platypus. It looks as though it was pasted together from different animals. Though less exotic, the moose looks like it was constructed from spare parts. Perhaps it is true that anything that could happen in nature will eventually happen.

Taking this concept to another level, we can speculate about the many different forms aliens might take. For those who do not believe in extraterrestrial life, please suspend disbelief. Popular culture commonly has aliens appearing as human – reptiles, short grays with large eyes and large heads, and tall, empathetic pale beings. What other features could they possess?

Part 1: What could extraterrestrials look like?
  1. Give the example of animals that lie in a dry environment develop secondary eyelids
  2. Ask the class what extraterrestrials look like in popular literature
  3. List the ideas the class offers
Part 2: What special, superhuman powers should staff possess in order to be effective corrections staff?
  1. The class designs perfect staff to increase safety
  2. Give examples such as mind reading, eyes on back of head or integrated body armor.
Part 3: What value are these attributes?
  1. Have participants list how the attributes from Part 2 can be used every day on the job
  2. For example, if staff could read offender minds, they would be able to set up a specific offense to thwart plans in order to enhance safety
Part 4: How can staff have attributes somewhat like this?
  1. State that staff cannot really read minds. However, data collection, observations and pattern analysis can help predict behavior of offenders
  2. Ask class what tools are at our disposal to enhance safety.
Clearly, we are not platypi, moose, nor aliens. We are mere mortal human beings. But with special tools and training, corrections staff can perform a job in super-human fashion. And safety is what it is all about.

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” and "Operation Icebreakers: Shooting for Excellence" among others. 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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