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 Lulu—including love, identity, self-improvement, bad habits, justice (or lack thereof), and consequences. . As you and your students explore and learn about Lulu, 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

  • Love is fleeting—here today, gone tomorrow.
  • All mistakes that are left uncorrected will become bad habits.
  • Bad habits bring about destructive lifestyles.
  • Destructive lifestyles will always end in illness or death. 
  • You cannot change someone else’s perception of you.
  • You can never fully know someone.
  • Everyone is different behind closed doors.
  • Justice will always be served.
  • Blackmailing doesn’t harm anyone.
  • Adultery may be justified.
  • You can never escape your past.

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.