Video for group dynamics

Link to show description: http://www.hulu.com/firefly

The short-lived TV show Firefly had a great segment that could be used in several ways to relate to group communication. Ten minutes into the final episode “Objects in Space,” the crew of the ship meets to discuss ongoing problems with one member, a 16-year-old girl named River. River was becoming increasingly more erratic and violent. Shortly before this meeting, she had held a loaded weapon on several members of the crew. The crew then meets to decide what do do about her.

I’m not able to link the video directly because hulu has recently moved it to “hulu plus” and youtube has removed it. But if you can find the video, the segment that I used was about 10 minutes into the episode starting with “What we’re here to determine is…” and ending with “She’s just a kid.” The clip is 2-3 minutes long.

What’s great about this meeting is how well they follow the first several steps of the group problem solving model. After showing the clip, I would have students describe which steps they had completed during the meeting.

The other way I used this clip was as an example of leadership.

This show is not very well-known. I would ask how many students had seen it or the movie “Serenity,” which used the same characters. Those who had seen it (usually only 1-2 out of 25) would be excluded from the next question. For everyone else, I would ask them if they can tell me who is the captain of the ship. In that short time and without knowing the characters, it is very easy to tell because of how the captain behaves (he’s the one who says the opening line, “What we’re here to determine is…”). We then talk about those behaviors and that leadership is a set of behaviors. You may also ask them to guess which character is River’s brother and what clues we have about that.

Notes: The rest of the episode has potentially offensive language and graphic violence. However, the only concern about the clip itself is that one character swears in Chinese. Also, hulu rotates its free episodes of Firefly periodically so you might be able to catch it there using the link above.

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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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