For All Teachers

Status Numbers

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  1. Explain to the class the difference between high status and low status behaviours.
  2. High status generally has open body movements, expansive use of space, direct eye contact, slower timing, more symmetrical posture, confident stillness and resonant vocalization.
  3. Low status is closed physicality, shifty or darting eye focus, quick movements, hunched or unstable posture, erratic movements and inhibited vocalization.
  4. Give the students a card from a deck of playing cards. They can pin this to them so it is visible to everyone else in the exercise. A king is the highest status. The ace is the lowest. All other numbers are in logical order from lowest to highest.
  5. Create a social situation where everyone can act their level of status in the group. For example, a neighbourhood barbeque or a birthday party.
  6. Let the entire class play out their status for five minutes.

TIP: Recap the exercise with discussion, identifying behaviours that give clear status signals. The ones in the middle, such as 5, 6 and 7 will be very subtle and fluid. It is important to acknowledge how these are harder to detect and can go through life as ‘status chameleons’. This is closer to how we use status in everyday life, slightly raising or lowering it as we interact.

VARIATIONS: Stick a card on the participants foreheads without showing it to them. Do another improvisation and ask the participants to behave according to how people are treating them. At the end of the prescribed time, ask them to line up from lowest to highest. Finish by looking at the cards to see how accurate they were. Another way of doing this is to split the group into two parts. One group performs and the other observes. Have the performers pick their status from the stack of cards but keep it hidden from everyone. Play the scene and ask the audience to line the performers up based on what status they saw.

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