Okay; I’m working on a project idea and I’d love some input.
I had started out thinking that I’d run my Humanities classes with a traditional trek from Greece and Rome, a trip though the Dark and Middle Ages, and a romp through the Renaissance and the start of the Modern age, but that’s just not going to play with my kids. I need to make it personal. To that end, I’ve decided that the classes are going to focus on how we posit ourselves as individuals in the context of the larger world (so, the way outside forces influence who you are, how you think, and what you value). I figure I can bring in some of the high points of ancient and foreign cultures while still keeping the kids focused on why they, personally, should give a shit about them.
We’ve already talked, albeit briefly, about how cultures are arranged and what kinds of things are necessary for them to thrive. I’ve done the quickest thumbnail sketch of the basics of citizenship. Today was spent investigating the difference between observation and analysis, and I’ve given them a bit of poetry (I snuck a Shakespearean sonnet in there!) and some art to scrutinize, and I think those exercises went pretty well.
I want to continue the work of analysis, but I want to turn it inward a bit. The art I had the kids analyze was Samuel Bak’s Self Portrait:
They did REALLY well with it, so I’m thinking that this might be a good spot to run with the idea of ‘self portraits’ and have them do a project in which they consider their own identity and then represent themselves in a bunch of different ways.
I want the project to have three different components; a written, a visual, and something that demonstrates that they’re able to see the ways in which they have been influenced by outside forces, whether that’s family, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or something else.
I’m going to start them with the visual aspect, I think. I’ll get them started tomorrow with an exercise where they brainstorm adjectives that describe them as they see themselves, and then get them working on coming up with some way of representing those qualities visually (depending on how they take to this idea, I may invite them to include some aspects of how they think OTHERS see them, as well, but I’ll wing that). I want to give them a lot of leeway in how they do this; I know that *I* would rather have the opportunity to create a collage or a powerpoint presentation than try to draw myself (i.e., creating an ACTUAL self-portrait), and I want the students to be able to free themselves from concerns about their artistic skills and instead have them focus on what they want to SAY about who they think they are – and how they think they got that way.
I’m happy to entertain suggestions about what the written and analytical pieces should look like (and whether they should be separate assignments or one focused piece of writing). I’m expecting this project to take a week or so (given that we’ve got a four-day weekend coming up in two days, and a four-day week after that). Who wants to help me put this together?