The Drawbridge Exercise – Ethical Dilemma & Icebreaker
The Drawbridge Exercise – Ethical Dilemma & Icebreaker

The Drawbridge Exercise – Ethical Dilemma & Icebreaker

The Drawbridge Exercise – Ethical Dilemma & Icebreaker

Author: Faraz Malik

Author: Faraz Malik

Date: August 20, 2023

Date: August 20, 2023

Judith H. Katz in her Handbook For Anti-Racism Training has an exercise known as the Drawbridge Exercise. The purpose of this exercise is to “explore how the realities of power, authority, and societal values influence our perceptions about how we see the world.” In my experience, this exercise is a great icebreaker that can give you insight on the worldview by which a person operates under. In addition, it helps you understand a person’s communication style and the ability of a group to work together towards a common goal, skills which are necessary for work.

Instructions

The exercise presents a story with six characters: The Baron, Baroness, Gateman, Boatman, Friend & Lover. In the story, the Baroness ends up being killed. At the end of the story the individual has to rank from 1 – 6 who was most responsible for her death (1 – most responsible) .

Once the individuals complete this, they will gather as a group and create their own group ranking. Then the groups will share with one another.

The Drawbridge Exercise

The Drawbridge

As he left for a visit to his outlying districts, the jealous baron warned his pretty wife: “Do not leave the castle while I am gone, or I will punish you severely when I return!”

But as the hours passed, the young baroness grew lonely, and despite her husband’s warning, she decided to visit her lover, who lived in the countryside nearby. The castle was situated on an island in a wide, fast-flowing river. A drawbridge linked the island to the mainland at the narrowest point in the river. “Surely my husband will not return before me,” she thought, and ordered the servant to lower the drawbridge and leave it down until she returned. After spending several pleasant hours with her lover, the baroness returned to the drawbridge. Only to find it blocked by a gateman wildly waving a long, cruel knife.

“Do not attempt to cross this bridge, Baroness, or I will have to kill you,” he cried. “The baron ordered me to do so.”

Fearing for her life, the baroness returned to her lover and asked him for help. “Our relationship is only a romantic one,” he said. “I will not help.” The baroness then sought out a boatman on the river, explained her plight to him, and asked him to take her across the river in his boat.

“I will do it but only if you can pay the fee of five marks.”
“But I have no money with me!” the baroness protested.
“That is too bad. No money, no ride,” the boatman said flatly.

Her fear growing, the baroness ran crying to the home of a friend and, after explaining her desperate situation, begged for enough money to pay the boatman his fee.

“If you had not disobeyed your husband this would not have happened,” the friend said. “I will give you no money.”

With dawn approaching and her last resource exhausted, the baroness returned to the bridge in desperation, and waited to cross to the castle, and was slain by the gateman.

After reading the scenario, rank the characters from 1-6.

1 = most responsible for the death of the Baroness | 6 = least responsible

Individual Ranking Group Ranking
Baron
Baroness
Gateman
Boatman
Friend
Lover

 

Be prepared to explain and discuss your rankings.

Judith H. Katz in her Handbook For Anti-Racism Training has an exercise known as the Drawbridge Exercise. The purpose of this exercise is to “explore how the realities of power, authority, and societal values influence our perceptions about how we see the world.” In my experience, this exercise is a great icebreaker that can give you insight on the worldview by which a person operates under. In addition, it helps you understand a person’s communication style and the ability of a group to work together towards a common goal, skills which are necessary for work.

Instructions

The exercise presents a story with six characters: The Baron, Baroness, Gateman, Boatman, Friend & Lover. In the story, the Baroness ends up being killed. At the end of the story the individual has to rank from 1 – 6 who was most responsible for her death (1 – most responsible) .

Once the individuals complete this, they will gather as a group and create their own group ranking. Then the groups will share with one another.

The Drawbridge Exercise

The Drawbridge

As he left for a visit to his outlying districts, the jealous baron warned his pretty wife: “Do not leave the castle while I am gone, or I will punish you severely when I return!”

But as the hours passed, the young baroness grew lonely, and despite her husband’s warning, she decided to visit her lover, who lived in the countryside nearby. The castle was situated on an island in a wide, fast-flowing river. A drawbridge linked the island to the mainland at the narrowest point in the river. “Surely my husband will not return before me,” she thought, and ordered the servant to lower the drawbridge and leave it down until she returned. After spending several pleasant hours with her lover, the baroness returned to the drawbridge. Only to find it blocked by a gateman wildly waving a long, cruel knife.

“Do not attempt to cross this bridge, Baroness, or I will have to kill you,” he cried. “The baron ordered me to do so.”

Fearing for her life, the baroness returned to her lover and asked him for help. “Our relationship is only a romantic one,” he said. “I will not help.” The baroness then sought out a boatman on the river, explained her plight to him, and asked him to take her across the river in his boat.

“I will do it but only if you can pay the fee of five marks.”
“But I have no money with me!” the baroness protested.
“That is too bad. No money, no ride,” the boatman said flatly.

Her fear growing, the baroness ran crying to the home of a friend and, after explaining her desperate situation, begged for enough money to pay the boatman his fee.

“If you had not disobeyed your husband this would not have happened,” the friend said. “I will give you no money.”

With dawn approaching and her last resource exhausted, the baroness returned to the bridge in desperation, and waited to cross to the castle, and was slain by the gateman.

After reading the scenario, rank the characters from 1-6.

1 = most responsible for the death of the Baroness | 6 = least responsible

Individual Ranking Group Ranking
Baron
Baroness
Gateman
Boatman
Friend
Lover

 

Be prepared to explain and discuss your rankings.

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