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PhiloQuests: the day of help

4. Creative Conception

Shoulder spirits (Part 1)


This activity is taken from the philocreation pedagogical guides of our community partner Brila, and is adapted with permission.


Objective: To plan the design of two little creatures that sit on your shoulders to support you!

Duration: 60 to 90 minutes


  • A sheet of paper or cardboard

  • Pencils, eraser


  1. Prepare the sheet. Your mission will be to create two little creatures that sit on your shoulders to support you in life! To help you get lots of ideas and organize them, prepare your sheet by drawing a horizontal line to separate it into two equal rectangles. In the top rectangle write "ideas" and in the bottom rectangle write "draft."

  2. Think about your first ideas. Brainstorm in the "ideas" section of your paper and let your imagination run wild!

    • Using the definition of help you gave for the Idea stretching activity, think about how different aspects of yourself can work together to help you take action. For example, your eagerness to accomplish great things on the one hand, and your need to relax on the other, allow you to create without exhausting yourself. Or your thirst for adventure on the one hand, and your caution on the other, allow you to explore without jeopardizing your safety. Hmm... but do you think two opposite sides of your personality can really help each other? Or... are they more likely to tear you apart? Before you go any further, you might want to ask yourself if it is possible for two completely different entities to help one another...
    • Next, imagine the shoulder spirits that represent these contradictions within yourself. Together, they maintain a wonderful balance that allows you to be yourself and to deal with all kinds of situations. They are just big enough to sit on each of your shoulders and whisper advice to you every time you face a problem! What kind of symbols could you use to represent the personality, values and ideas of these little creatures? How could you represent their distinct perspectives on life?

      Tip: Have you ever seen a cartoon character with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other? Shoulder spirits are similar to these little creatures, except for one very big difference. They are not embodiments of good and evil, but rather of two important—vital and essential—dimensions of yourself. They offer you conflicting advice on the best way to live, and yet you need both of them to be the complex yet complete person that you are!

    • Finally, imagine that they can help you understand how you should respond to a great dilemma. Can you identify a problem you are facing that might need two different—yet equally important—pieces of advice? Hmm... maybe you should ask yourself how two completely opposite bits of advice can be equally reasonable. Is that even possible? Why or why not?

  3. Sketch your ideas. Now that you've got a bunch of great ideas, it's time to see what they look like! In the “draft” area of your sheet, sketch your shoulder spirits and write down the advice they give you. It's not your final creation yet, so these drawings don't need to be too neat. It's mainly to see if your ideas work and to change them if necessary. You'll find that you'll have lots of new ideas as you start to create!

That's all for now! Don't forget that this activity is only the first part of your creative project! You can start the second partCreative Constructionright after this one or after you've done the Philosophical Picnic, but we recommend that you at least take a break. You've earned it!


Bonus: Have you ever imagined your teachers' lives outside of school? Yes, it may be surprising, but they also have a life outside the walls of your classroom! Do you think it's possible to be a teacher and a skydiver? ...a boxing champion? ...a clown? Can a person be strict and funny? ...lazy and passionate? ...sporty and smart? Are there ways of being, acting and thinking that can't coexist within one person? Hmm... maybe everyone has different and surprising facets to their personality. What do you think?

comic strip: can we be serious and fun at once?

This comic strip is reproduced with permission from the philosophy columns of our community partner Les Explorateurs magazine. It was produced in collaboration with our team at the Institute of Philosophy, Citizenship and Youth.

Do we need advice to live better?

Tricks for tots: Do you sometimes have little voices inside your head telling you to do something or not? For example, when looking down at your overcooked broccoli, one voice might tell you to eat it because it's healthy, while the other voice might be completely disgusted and tell you to go get the cookies! One wants to be healthy, the other wants to take it easy! Can these two little voices both be right? Imagine two little creatures representing these voices advising you every day!
Tips for teens: What if these spirits could help... all of humanity! Think of a big problem or an important issue that affects a group of people, a whole population, or humans all over the world. It could be a social or an environmental issue. The choice is yours! You can select a cause that is close to your heart or a problem that you are hearing a lot about right now. Identify the different points of view of this situation and imagine the different possible solutions. Then, turn these into two creatures with opposing visions that can help humanity!

Share your creative reflections by sending them via email.
Include photos of your projects and notes of your thoughts, as well as your first name and your age!

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