Activity 2 : Borderline Cases

  • To discover many of the criteria that implicitly govern concepts.
  • To explore concepts in depth.
  • To argue one’s choice.
  • To give reasons for the claims made
  • Conveying and exchanging information.
  • Collaborating with others in teams and networks
  • Speaking cards
  • Just-unjust-? scheme
  • Alive-not alive scheme

This activity is for approximately 10-20 people.

A time of collective restitution is planned.

Each team presents its methodology for explaining the facts/ ideas.

1.One of the most useful tools for conceptual exploration is the problematic or borderline case. If we wish to think about what makes something fair, for example, it can be very helpful to consider cases that are neither fair nor clearly unfair. Before introducing the case to the participants, the educator hands out the cards and the participants categorize the following concepts in accordance with their being alive or not.

  • the wind
  • the sun
  • a stone
  • thoughts
  • a seed
  • a boiled egg
  1. The participants explain the reasons why they categorized concepts,
  2. The educator emphasizes that a concept like ‘being alive’ has a history and our understanding of what makes something alive is scientific knowledge.
  3. The educator hands out the following new concepts asking the participants to categorize them as “ART” and “NOT ART”:
  • a bird’s nest
  • a photograph
  • an idea
  • an architect’s drawing
  • rocks shaped by the weather
  • a spider’s web
  • a child’s scribble
  • a drawing made by computer
  • a graffiti sprayed on the wall
  • a colourful hat

The participants can be given a few minutes to discuss and explain the reasons why they categorized concepts.

  1. Similarly the participants are given some cases to be categorized as “JUST” or “UNJUST” . They will leave the concepts to “?” category if they are unsure of the reason.


  1. After debating upon the categorization of the given cases, the educator gives a final tip to make notes on the criteria:
  • necessary something that falls under the concept need to have the attribute,
  • merely commonplace: paradigm cases commonly, even though now not perpetually have the characteristic,
  • enough: having the attribute, or set of the attributes, is all that is required for something to fall beneath the idea.
  1. Finally, the participants are asked to summarize the activity with one word/ concept.
  • Did we look at different points of views?
  • Did everyone get a chance to contribute?
  • Did we explore our disagreements reasonably?
  • Did we deepen our understanding of any significant idea?
  • Did we make good progress in answering our questions?

This activity can be considered as an intergenerational activity and is suitable for mixed  different age groups, regarding  the skills of conveying and exchanging information and collaborating with others in teams and networks. Different perspectives can be considered in line with participants’ experiences.