1. “Don’t Walk Barehead In The Sun”

    How do the sayings of our parents and grandparents, our teachers and preachers influence the way we interpret and construct our reality?

    Words, wisdom and criticism, can really stick. Today’s session opened with reading Girl by Jamaica Kincaid and an excerpt from a Jim Heynen story about a boy. Each of us followed their lead and in a stream of consciousness we wrote down the sayings that swim in our minds, often popping up at seemingly random moments. 

    “The exercise raised my awareness of the voices that influence how I act, understand and interpret the world and people around me. Faculty, college and high school students all read their culture scripts aloud. The room shifted from one of strata and layers to a one of shared voices, advice, praise, and criticism, sweet and caring words mingled with biased and harsh voices. When I walk by the sayings in the halls of our building I am reminded of our commonalities. I like being reminded of the many ways we are more similar than different.” —Lis Charman 

    Find the full lesson plan after the jump.

    Project Title: Don’t Walk Bareheaded In The Sun (Culture Scripts)
    Facilitator: Conrad Schumacher, CLC/PSU & Lis Charman, PSU

    Question
    How do the sayings of our parents and grandparents, our teachers and preachers influence the way we interpret and construct our self-identity and realities?

    Goals
    To understand the impact of external input on our sense of self, to share truths about ourselves and to get to know our peers better.

    Introduction
    Words, wisdom and criticism, can really stick. By using the format of a culture script, we will raise our awareness of the voices that influence the way we interact with, understand and interpret the world around us. We’ll use stream of consciousness writing to write down the sayings that swim around our minds, often popping up at unexpected moments to direct how we walk through life.

    Materials
    Speech bubbles, photocopied onto 8.5 x 11 paper.
    Scrap paper for writing
    Markers, pencils, pens.

    Process
    Step 1
    Read Girl by Jamaica Kincaid and an excerpt from The One-Room Schoolhouse: Stories About the Boys by Jim Heynan.

    Step 2
    Consider what the voices in your own life say about you. Think about parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, teachers, preachers, and friends. What do people say to you, about you? What praises, instructions, nudges, annoyances and harsh words come your way on a daily basis? Get it all out on paper! Take 10 to 15 minutes to empty your thoughts.

    Step 3
    Read your culture script aloud to the group. Share what you are comfortable sharing.

    Step 4
    Choose some of the phrases that resonate the most with you, whether they are your phrases or someone else’s. Write them in the provided talk bubbles. Hang them in a grid in a designated space, or hang them around your school on bulletin boards.

    Discussion
    What were some similarities and differences between the phrases shared in the speech bubbles? How do you feel about the phrases in your culture script?  What did it feel like to publicly share phrases that others say about you? (Think about how it felt to share with the group, and also with the school through the speech bubbles.)

    Resources
    Collective Memory Project: Culture Scripts
    Girl by Jamaica Kincaid

    Reflection
    “The exercise raised my awareness of the voices that influence how I act, understand and interpret the world and people around me. Faculty, college and high school students all read their culture scripts aloud. The room shifted from one of strata and layers to a one of shared voices, advice, praise, and criticism, sweet and caring words mingled with biased and harsh voices. When I walk by the sayings in the halls of our building I am reminded of our commonalities. I like being reminded of the many ways we are more similar than different.” — Lis Charman

    Notes for teachers

    Cultural scripts are considered to be “part of a complex system of knowledge and ideologies (and sometimes emotional rules) about the world. They function by organizing prior knowledge ideologies and emotional rules to aid the understanding and categorization of new information. Hence, they influence what we see and remember and how we interpret and construct reality.”

    ‘Cultural scripts’ might be also be described as commonly held assumptions that are brought into everyday interactions. Cultural scripts form a kind of interpretive background against which individuals may understand, interpret, evaluate and position their own acts and those of others.” — Collective Memory Project