What Grinds our Gears: Icebreaker activities in lectures and tutorials

Photo by GCU Optical Society

Written by: Tiffany Chang, SFU Student

I’m pretty sure that all SFU students have endured the painfully awkward icebreakers forced upon us by TAs or professors at the start of every semester. As someone who’s entering my third year, I’ve had enough of these repetitive, boring, and cringe-worthy activities supposedly helping you “get to know each other better.”

It always goes like this: “We’ll start from the left side. Tell us your name, major, and something interesting about yourself.” Once the time comes and my turn is fast approaching, I always groan inwardly and think: “Just kill me now!” For crying out loud, there are so many other ways to break the ice than these cookie-cutter introductory circles.

To illustrate how much better it could be, when I went to a co-op workshop, the advisors running it actually had us stand up, walk around, shake hands, and introduce ourselves to at least five different people. Even though the handshaking was more of an exercise on how to greet potential employers, doesn’t that sound a lot better than sitting in an uncomfortable chair with 20 or more people staring silently at you while you say yet another version of the exact same thing for the umpteenth time?

Why on earth do icebreakers for classes and tutorials need to be nothing but monotonous, unnecessary crap? Did it ever occur to university instructors that the traditional “icebreaker” is a euphemism for boredom and discomfort? Elementary schools use better methods! At this rate, I definitely won’t be able to handle one more icebreaker without screaming in pure frustration and sprinting out of the room like a madman.