Since students have been expressing the feeling that identity is not an important issue, I thought it would be important to discuss some of the impacts of ascribed identity explicitly. As it is the anniversary of 9/11, this Ascribed Identity Lesson Plan evolved from The Power of the Story: The Voice of Witness Teacher’s Guide to Oral History and our university students. The goal is to build a sense of the consequences that people’s presumptions about identity can have on other people’s lives.
The Identity Box worksheet was created to go along with this lesson. I used excerpts from Patriot Acts, a book in the Voices of Witness series because they tell stories that we don’t often hear about 9/11 that were collected using oral history. We hope that students learn more about history as a living entity that has myriad perspectives from techniques like oral history. As teens in New York, Adama’s story is about one 16-year old Muslim girl and Gurwinder’s Story is about a 19-year old Sikh boy. Looking forward to comments about how this lesson worked! Let me know if you think there is anything that could be improved in the future.
UPDATE: Our students found our identity box activity so powerful and interesting, they have decided to create a schoolwide action called “Beyond the Boxes.” University and High school students created a interview station during lunch time so that they could do oral histories of their own and interview members of Charlottesville High School about the way that they transcend the boxes that people place them in. Stay tuned for the finished project!