Value- or values clarification exercises are exercises that actively involve participants in a discussion of statements and values. The idea is that we should be active in our choice of values, because they will play a part in defining our lives and choices. Through statements and questions, the participants become responsible by participating in the exercises.
In relation to forum plays, value exercises can be used as preparation following some warm up exercises. Value exercises give everyone a chance to speak out or voice their opinion, argue for their motivations, be respectful and listen (and be listened to). Moreover, the exercises are a good means of starting discussions and developing a positive group atmosphere. The Swedish forum theatre conductor and drama educator, Katrin Byréus, often use these exercises as preparation for forum plays. Like warm up exercises, value exercises can be helpful in breaking down some of the barriers some young people may have towards stepping onto stage and expressing their opinion.
Values clarification exercises have their roots in the work of the American academic Louis Raths in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Rath worked on educating teachers and the pedagogy of young people (Raths 1978).