2.1(a) Community: what’s in a word?


To explore and agree what the group means by community.

You need

Copies of activity sheet 9 for everyone in the group, some pens and paper and about an hour.

What to do

a) First, take five minutes on your own, or in pairs if you prefer, to look at the list below (activity sheet 9) and ring those statements that describe what you see as part of your community.

When you’re thinking about the list of statements that you see as part of your community, think about the online websites you belong as well. These might include Facebook, Myspace, Bebo, fan groups, interest groups or gaming sites. Do you consider yourselves part of these communities?

Add in any others you may want to on the activity sheet.

  • People within a few miles of where I live
  • My neighbours
  • People who share the same beliefs as I do
  • People with the same interests
  • People of the same nationality
  • People of a similar age
  • People who support the same team as I do
  • People of the same ethnic group
  • People who live in the same country
  • My ancestors
  • People from the same family
  • The place where I live
  • Everyone on the planet

b) Form into small groups of up to five people and take a few minutes to compare what you have found. How much agreement is there? It may be, for example, that most of you agree that my family, where I live and my neighbours are part of your community. There may be less agreement about whether people who live a few miles away are part of your community. And how useful is the term community when describing people of the same country? What about what we might call ‘communities of interest’, based on a shared religion or culture, going to the same place of worship, or sharing the same interests in sport or music or films or a community of action, for example, against climate change?

c) Each small group now needs to come up with its own definition of community. Staying in your small groups, first do a word storm of everything that comes into your heads about the word community. Does thinking about community in a global sense change your definition of it? It’s not something you can see and its not something that’s around you, but if you feel part of it does it make it a community? Think about this when coming up with your definition.

Write them up on a flipchart. Or you could do a collage of pictures from magazines and photos. When you’ve done this, have a look at the ideas below. How do they compare?

Community is:

  • Where we feel we belong
  • Where people know me and I feel safe
  • A group of friends I enjoy being with
  • A place I can call my own
  • People I can rely on
  • My neighbourhood

And finally, in your small groups and drawing on your work above, come up with a definition of the word community and write it at the bottom of your flipchart, or on activity sheet 9.

What do you think?

Come back together as a whole group and share your small group definitions. What do they have in common and are there any big differences? If so, what are they and why do you think this is? How do they compare with the ones below?

‘Community is about living and working together, feeling safe, belonging and respecting differences.’

‘A group with common interests or origins.’

‘People living in the same area, sharing similar values and responsibilities.’

What next

It might be interesting to find out what other people understand by community. You could ask a range of other people and compare what you find: parents or carers, teachers, the local police officer, friends at college or school. These could be written on cards and stuck up along with your own at the next group meeting.


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