Identity and Community

I was thinking about some of the early social reasoning and community building that we do in schools and with groups and had few ideas that you could explore about identity and community. They can fit in with who am I work as well as continuing to look at individual and group beliefs.  Just some partially random thoughts.

1.Identity and Community Overview:
There are some excellent activities at Facing History and Ourselves.  Here is a link to some of the curriculum – It says that it is 6th grade, but it can be used for any grade as an intro into considering identity and community issues.  In an advisory setting, this is very important.  They do the same initial community and identity work with all ages (and adults).  If you look at some of the early lessons (such as the identity chart) – these can be good general getting to know you activities, but can develop into even deeper work.
2.Universe of Obligation
Another concept in exploring identity and community is that of Universe of Obligation. It is a particularly helpful frame for people to explore what the roles and responsibilities are of a society and people in it.  What should they be in your school?  Your advisory? Should they mirror that of our society?  Be a laboratory for change or exploration?
These can both be done in some great depth exploring this concept in history as well, but it can also  start with an initial series of conversations.
3. Film and Fiction: Alienation
  • A lot of people are out there seeing District 9– if you haven’t seen it, it is a very interesting sci-fi allegory about alienation (literally) on the macro level  (aparthied) and on the micro level (personal disaffection).  Advisory trip anyone?
    Review and connection with apartheid
  • Materials to explore Apartheid:
    In a slightly less abstract level, Ray Bradbury’s short story, “All Summer in a Day” explores the cost of our actions, empathy (and lack thereof) in a school setting (on Venus).  A possible companion to that.
  • One You Tube (in three sections) – An old Twilight Zone episode, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” explores human impulses to make meaning and assumptions and act on them with little or no empiricism.  The tendency to scapegoat, blame and resort to violence and the will of a mob play prominent roles with a great twist ending.
4.The Book Thief
Read a great book for a book group.  It is long (500 pages) but very good.  – The Book Thief – a German Girl in 1930’s, 40’s Germany – narrated by Death.  Has a lot of powerful openings to talk about the issues in the Holocaust.  (Krystallnacht, Nuremberg Laws, the nuances of Aryan Germans who were not Nazis but made choices that were different from themselves.)  Highly recommend tis one.  I have a lot of resources on background material as well.
5. A random democracy note
In a recent New Yorker comment The States We’re In, Hendrick Hertzberg writes about a movement in California called Repair California that is pushing to scrap California’s entire existing government and constitution, bring together a lottery selected group of citizens, who with the input of any consultant they ask for, will draft a new constitution and develop a new system for democratic government as sees fit for California.  It is an amazing idea and moment. Something that could (and sometimes is) done in schools – but people in a state are now hip to the reality that the state doesn’t work and needs to be changed.
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