Making Curriculum Pop

Hi All!
I am trying to create a teacher resource based on an Art workshop I am doing at a LGBT center in Syracuse. The theme of the workshop is "Searching Self-Image." We have had discussions on how we might present different self-images to different people, and have talked about "how do you want people to see you, how do you see your self, and how might other's see you?" Most of these kids are not yet "out" to their communities, so we also discuss dual self-images, or School-Self, and Out of School-Self.

Syracuse has been plagued with hate crimes against gay students in the past couple of years, and many High Schools do not have LGBT services, so this curriculum will provide a nice way to help teachers foster much needed discussions, and awareness in their classrooms.

Here is what I am looking for: Any relevant ideas, or prompts in the English, Literary, Writing, Social Studies, Science, Music, etc that surround the idea of "Searching Self Identity." Could be books, movies, song lyrics, articles...anything you find would be actually relevant to link this discussion.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated, as there are many experts on this site!
Thank you!

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Oops, I should apologize for not posting this in the right category...not that saavy yet!
Hi Kristin, thinking of several songs and writing activities I've used focusing on tolerance, diversity, and empathy....

How To Save a Life


Yes We Can

Thank you, John-
I will investigate these!
Hi, Kris. Alan here (friend of your brother Ryan, but don't hold that against me!)

For the past 20 years or so I've worked with/supported/observed the work of Wendy Ewald with children in the public schools of Durham, NC (my hometown). She has developed the "Literacy through Photography" model of working with children to write about and photograph their self-portraits, families, communities, and dreams. In an extension of her project with Durham middle school children, she developed a Black Self/White Self project. In this project, students talked about, then wrote about what it's like to be their own race and the "opposite" race (in Durham at the time 90% of the students fit one of these categories--we've since diversified even further). Following their discussion and writing, the students posed for photographs with clothing and prop changes depicting their "black selves" and "white selves."

The project yielded the usual stereotypes about "others" but it also revealed more subtle perceptions--students could imagine how it would be like to be different than they were--more successful or cooler or fashionable. Also, Wendy learned that whereas black students more clearly understood what "white" was like, white students hadn't really thought about what it would be like to be black.

Wendy has written a "how to" book about her work with children in I Wanna Take Me a Picture (with Alexandra Lightfoot). Here's the link to the book on Amazon:

Another of her books is Secret Games, which has the original Black Self/White Self project photos, as well as her other work with children. The link:

I'm suggesting Wendy's work because I think it would be fascinating to do both a self-portrait and a "Gay Self/Straight Self" project with LGBT young people. Or may an "In Self/Out Self" project to explore who you are to yourself and your intimates vs. who you are to those you haven't come out to yet.

Stay in touch. Somewhere I have Wendy's contact information--and the project is located here at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (where I'm on the Board). If you're interested in connecting with the project, I can "hook you up."

Hi Kristin,
It sounds like an amazing workshop you are working on!! I know you said you are looking for English, Wiritng and other types of resources. But since it's going to be an art workshop, it might be interesting to consider the photography of Nikki S. Lee:
This young Korean photographer immerses herself in different subcultures and then assumes the characteristics of these groups. Over time, she is photographed as she lives among these groups. Examples of her projects include The Yuppie Project, the Skateboarder Project and the Senior Citizens Project. These seem to connect fairly well to the concept of identity.
Dear Megan, and to Kristin,

Kristin -- this workshop sounds amazing (for its ethos), intense (for its content), and extremely relevant (for the hate crimes as you mentioned in that part of New York State, as well as our current [rather interesting and complex] national climate concerning gay identity, and relationships of gay individuals to 'non gay' society). I heartily admire you for your work in forming this new important resource to reach educators and individuals struggling with these issues.

In response to Megan's post above, and also to your inquiry concerning additional art resources: Maria Yoon is a Korean-born, New York based artist who, among other pieces, works in her project of Maria the Korean Bride. In this project, she explores the issues of cultural and ethnic identity, and how this relates to expectations of traditional marriage for her as a Korean woman.

In reading Megan's post, and viewing the website of this fascinating photography Nikki S, Lee, I thought of Maria instantly because I feel both artists push social boundaries in the same way -- through literal performance of expectation. Maria's work, while it does not directly address the violence of 'heterosexism', certainly explores areas of cultural machismo and gender expectation. I think discussion about areas and issues of sexuality are certainly embedded to what Maria provokes in her Korean Bride work, as she struggles to understand her own identity as an individual based in a society that surrounds her with entirely different expectation -- and cultural reprimand -- of her developments and choices.

I would love to hear more about your workshop as it progresses. Please keep us posted! I would love to continue to contribute ideas too.

Here are a few great recent graphic novels on this subject:
Tough Love by Abby Denson - published by Manic D Press - about queer teens coming out
American Born Chinese by Gene Yang - published by First Second - coming of age as a Chinese-American dealing with racism
Fox Bunny Funny by Andy Hartzell - published by Top Shelf - my favorite - an anthropomorphic tale of forbidden love, shame, courage, transformation, and liberation



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