Students explore the influence of ideology on identity by assessing the extent to which actions and identities of selected personalities reflect ideologies. Students show this relationship in a concept map or other visual representation.
- Assess the extent to which identity is influenced by ideologies.
Introduce beliefs, actions and identity
Provide each student with a copy of “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Background Information).” Instruct students to read the list and indicate what beliefs and values are implied in each of the points. For example, students might suggest that "Don’t hit people" reflects a belief in nonviolent problem solving or that “Flush” reflects a value of thinking of others.
Invite students to share their interpretations of the statement of learnings, recording the inferred beliefs and values. Ask students if the guidelines in this list are the way individuals or groups should live life. Use the collection of beliefs and values to introduce the idea that ideology is a set of beliefs and values about what kind of society is best.
Encourage students to consider if the identity of a person or group can be inferred by examining actions, beliefs and values.
Prompt discussion with questions such as the following:
- Do our actions reveal our beliefs and values?
- What factors influence our beliefs and values?
- Do our beliefs and values reveal the identity of a person or group?
- What impact do religious or spiritual beliefs have on behaviour and identity?
- Does the media promote a culture that reflects the beliefs and values in “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”?
Examine beliefs and values of prominent people
Provide several examples of prominent personalities who have received attention for notable actions; e.g., business leaders, athletes, politicians, entertainers. These personalities should represent a range of actions from the laudable to the questionable. Here are some examples:
- Becky Scott to Barry Bonds
- Bill Gates to Conrad Black
- Susan Aglukark to Britney Spears
- Mother Teresa to Osama bin Laden.
Ask students to determine the extent to which the actions of these individuals support the ideology presented in “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (Background Information).” If an action is not congruent with the ideology, encourage students to determine what beliefs and values are reflected in the action.
Finally, ask students to identify possible groupings of the actions of the various personalities. For each group or cluster, ask students to decide on a label that would broadly capture the values and beliefs reflected by the actions; e.g., risk takers, work ethic, service to others, status, power. Students will use these groups of values and beliefs in the next step of the activity.
Provide students with a variety of definitions of ideology. Examples may include the following:
When we think of an ideology in this more dynamic sense, we mean much the same thing as that when we use such expressions as “outlook on life,” “general attitude of mind,” “mode of thought,” “intellectual position,” “Weltanschauung,” “mental standpoint,” “method of approach,” “general viewpoint” and so on.
Reproduced from Harold Walsby, “The Domain of Ideologies, Part Two, Chapter Two: Definition of Ideology,” The George Walford International Essay Prize, 1946, http://gwiep.net/wp/?p=149 (Accessed December 2015). Reprinted with permission from GWIEP.NET.
Typically an ideology is the creation of some identifiable group (political, cultural, economic) for the purpose of spreading or maintaining its perspective on reality among themselves and others.
©2008 by Austin Cline. Used with permission of About, Inc. All rights reserved.
Explain that ideologies are ways of seeing the world that include characteristics (interpretations of history, beliefs about human nature, beliefs about the structure of society, visions for the future) and themes (nation, class, relationship to land, environment, religion, progressivism).
- Create a concept map to demonstrate an understanding of ideology and its relationship to related key terms and concepts.
Create a concept map
Once students understand the relationship between ideology and identity, invite them to create a concept map that reflects this relationship. Students should draw on the definitions, examples, ideas and statements developed throughout this activity.
Remind students that their concept map will need to articulate clearly the concept of ideology and capture the various ways that ideologies may impact positively and negatively on group and individual identities.
To introduce students to the idea of concept mapping, you may wish to provide them with a summary description and a sample found in Concept Maps (Support Material).
Extension: Visual representation of concept map
Ask students to prepare and present a visual representation of their concept map. Suggest to students that criteria for a visual representation should include the following:
- catchy: grabs the audience’s attention
- concise: presents information in a nutshell
- comprehensive: presents all the key information; e.g., stakeholders, interests, issue, relevant data
- convincing: makes viewers believe that the information on the visual is important and reliable.
To structure this activity, you may want to refer to the criteria and guidelines found in Creating Persuasive and Effective Visuals (Modelling the Tools).