This month we are finishing up our unit on Empathy and Critical Thinking in our Sanford Harmony lessons. One of the vocabulary words that we have learned is stereotype. Our discussions at the different grade levels have been amazing! I really thought this was going to be a tough concept to grasp for our "littles" but they are NOT giving me the glazed over look!
Here is our definition of stereotype:
a belief that all people in a group are the same in some way because they are all part of the same group; a fixed image of a group of people; judgments of someone based on ideas about the group they belong to.
The activities were great. Before we even gave the term a definition, I would ask students to go to one side of the room if what I said was true of girls and the other side if it was true for boys. We did the same for old people and young people. It wasn't long before kids would say, "That could be either. Both boys and girls could do that!"
We also talked about examples that we may see of stereotyping. They did a great job finding examples in the stories they currently had in reading.
The 4th graders had a fun time writing characteristics of different age groups. You can see from the papers pictured below what they thought was true for the various groups we discussed. I asked the students how they knew these things were true. Some of them said it was because they have siblings or cousins in that age group. They also decided that not everything was true for all people in that group. So, as we said in kindergarten and 1st grade, "some people do, some people don't" fit the stereotype.
One student said that all of those traits described his sister perfectly!
"She's 16! She has a car! You know what I mean?" 😏
I loved how they found the characteristics of parents to be mostly positive! Loving, caring, helpful.....and of course, "neat freak"! Also "mean and strict"--which I'm sure most kids would use as descriptive traits if they have had to hear "no" from a parent or have experienced consequences of their bad choices.
I told the kids I was very interested in seeing what they wrote for grandparents since I am going to become a grandma in February. It looks like I can put away the wrinkle cream since "wrinkles" made it to their list.
We also talked about what causes stereotypes. Is it based on what we see most people doing in society? Or is based on what we learn at school or from our parents? All of this talk about stereotypes got me thinking about another term: Branding!
How do we "brand" ourselves? In other words, do we create a "stereotype" or "brand" for ourselves based on what we do? What we post on social media? How we act? What we say?
I think we do. I decided to take this to another level with my middle school students who are more in touch and active with social media. We have been talking about drug and alcohol prevention in 5th and 6th grade. Here are my questions:
What type of stereotype or "brand" do we give people who drink, smoke, vape or use drugs?
What type of "brand" does media give those choices? Do advertisers give a different brand in order to sell their products? How does this affect our choices?
My next challenge for them:
"What type of brand have your created for yourself? Base this on your social media posts, what you "Like"? How about the brand you create for yourself based on how you act? Or treat others?
Are you creating a brand that would be popular? (Remember, "What is popular isn't always right and what is right isn't always popular!") Have good value? Show good character?
So, what is your personal brand?
Are you happy with it? Or, do you need to do some changing?