Philosophical Chairs

Philosophical Chairs is an activity designed to foster critical thinking, active inquiry, and respectful dialogue among students. To play a game of Philosophical Chairs, participants agree or disagree with a series of statements, but the game doesn’t end there. The most crucial element of the game is what happens next: Participants discuss their points of view and can switch sides if their opinions change during the discussion. (For more tips on using Philosophical Chairs in a classroom or via a remote-learning platform, see the activity description in your Google Classroom.)

Each topic statement is deliberately open-ended yet ties into a number of the themes present in La Fille du Régiment—including love and who deserves it, loyalty to a group or nation, and the challenges of growing up and finding our place in the world. As you and your students explore and learn about La Fille du Régiment, you can return to these statements: What do they have to do with the opera’s story? How might these questions help us explore the opera’s story, history, and themes?

The Statements

  • Your parents should have a say in who you marry.
  • You should look and act like your gender.
    • (Variation for older students: Gender roles are a social construct.)
  • War is inevitable.
  • You should have an allegiance to your country.
  • You must obey your parents.
  • Your parents know what is best for you.
  • Your family consists of those biologically related to you.
  • Money is the key to life’s happiness.
  • You can’t help who you love.
  • Potatoes are the best vegetables around.
  • Secrets don’t hurt anyone.
  • Social status is important.
  • Everyone has a soulmate.

Keep in mind that the process of this activity is just as important as the statements themselves. Imagine a world in which everyone actively listens to one another and engages in respectful dialogue, honoring others and showing respect for the wide array of diverse ideas and opinions that others hold. Philosophical Chairs fosters exactly this kind of space, encouraging students to take what they’ve learned and change the global landscape for generations to come.