Breaking the ice.

I do not, myself, like icebreaker sorts of things. It brings out the middle schooler in me, the part that doesn’t like joining things, the part that is still afraid that people will point and laugh, the part that struggles with sincerity. When, in my college classes, we have to do icebreakers, it is hard for me to resist rolling my eyes. It’s not that I think I’m too cool for icebreakers. It’s that I think I’m not quite cool enough, that no one will be interested enough in me to want to break the ice. That people will think it’s silly if I participate too much. So I hang back and try not to let myself seem too invested. (Also, I don’t like silly games that have no point other than breaking the ice. Let’s come up with an actual way to break the ice for a change.)

I like to watch the students when they do icebreaker activities, to see how their personalities come out. This one hangs in the corner, acting much like I always feel. That one dives in fearlessly, asking questions of all his classmates. This one goofs off, that one works steadily. I don’t have kids (or particularly maternal instincts), but from time to time I am unexpectedly moved to see them discovering who they are, taking risks when they would rather hang back, eschewing a sense of safety in order to get involved. I want to take them aside and tell them that it doesn’t do any good to keep worrying about what people think, and that they should jump into these activities with as much abandon as a child joyously jumping into a puddle. But I know they have to figure those things out themselves, so instead I simply say, “Are you finished? Then have a seat.”

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10 Comments

  1. Love this post. I too hate ice breakers. I always just assumed I was too cool. But now I know it’s because I’m not cool enough! So true!

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  2. I love your honesty Kari! I hate ice breakers…too introverted for them. Frank…loves them…the extrovert!

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  3. So, Kari with a K, where did you live when you were eight years old? 😉

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  4. i hate icebreakers, but now if i’m forced to do one, i try to come up with the most ridiculous answer for the question. i used to just say the easiest and non memorable answer, but not anymore.

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  5. I once played the icebreaker from hell in one human sexuality class at the G. It was human sexuality bingo and we had to go around the class and ask each other questions to put a bingo chip on our card. One of the questions was “Are you a virgin?”. Geez, talk about personal. It was extremely uncomfortable. I hated the class for the rest of the semester.

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  6. wow – I am still trying to get past Caroline’s comment about their ice breaker…un.be.liev.able!!
    As one who has been in charge of those ice breakers for decades working in youth ministry, I will definitely be having a point to them….hee hee.Loved this post, it’s so true!!

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  7. As an orientation counselor at college we had to lead and participate in many icebreakers. Oh, how I am glad I’m not an orientation counselor anymore. Just found your blog through Chatting at the Sky and love it!

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  8. I have to agree with Emily and found myself nodding along to this post. I hate icebreakers and you make such a good point, so many of them are just silly games that don’t even break the ice!

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  9. i’m definitely thinking caroline’s icebreaker question wins for most awkward and scary icebreaker.

    Posted 8/27/2008 at | Permalink
  10. Yeah. My answer to that question would have been *very* revealing about my personality. Something like, “I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

    Posted 8/31/2008 at | Permalink

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