“Unique and different is the new generation of beautiful” – Taylor Swift
So, what makes you unique? Are you proud of it or do you shy away from an identity associated with what makes you different?
Unfortunately, all too often when people mean “different” they use a negative tone or use words like “crazy” or “insane” – even for characteristics that are positive in my view, like drive, ambition and passion. Or, when they believe that they can’t achieve what you have.
Actually, a good friend and I were discussing this on my trip to London this past weekend. Sometimes criticisms or shock at how “different” you are, are really masked jealousy of your success. Perhaps these criticisms could simply be confusion, or a lack of knowledge on how they can become the way you are, or have their own identity.
Teaching Students About Equality & Being Unique
So, have you ever noticed that students want to fit in? Personally, I was always against conformity growing up (but then, I wasn’t one of the popular ones 😉 ) Most students either want to fit in, or feel that they are obligated to be the same as their peers. In my opinion, this is dangerous territory. Bullying (and now, cyberbullying) is a sad reality for those who the majority consider to be different. While there has been great debate about whether the show 13 Reasons Why is appropriate for teenagers, I believe that it’s valuable content that needs to be discussed, and would be great for an English character analysis lesson plan or novel study!
It’s so important to teach our students about equality and the value of being unique.
One simple way to do this is to find young role models you can show your students, and use this as a basis for a lesson plan. Emma Watson, for example, is a strong young actor who believes in the fight for gender equality. While some debate her effectiveness and motives, Taylor Swift is another young woman who speaks out for women’s rights and gender equality
Here is Emma Watson’s 2014 speech to the UN General Assembly, which could be used for an English or ESL lesson plan:
In fact, I’m planning to throw in a lesson about identity through poetry (see my post on getting teens to write here) and teaching using gender equality speeches in my June printables. So, be sure you have access to my free printables library!
5 Ways To Discover Your Uniqueness
Whether you’re a teacher or a student, finding your uniqueness is important to determining your identity. What makes you different? Not sure? How can you find out? Well, here are 5 of my ideas!
1. Try Something Completely New – How many times do we become stuck in a routine we’ve always followed? I make it a rule to try something new as often as possible. In fact, I work this into my goal setting process every January and my goal revisions every June. It’s so refreshing to learn a new skill! You never know what you may discover! For example, I would have never thought I would love painting copies of famous art, or making paintings inspired by my photography.
2. Make A List of Activities You Would Do For Free – Discover your passion. What do you really want to do with your life? If it doesn’t match what you’re doing, reflect on the identity you want and how you can achieve it.
3. Understand Your Biggest Hurdles – Actually, I believe this is one of the largest parts of being unique. Since we are all unique, we all approach hurdles and difficulties in our lives in different ways. Knowing your stressors and common challenges can you better understand who you, embrace it, and make changes if you desire them.
4. Make a Visualization Board – Well, I love visualization boards! First, choose colours, magazine photos, newspaper articles and anything else you can find, and make a collage. Next, add words that describe you and your favourite thoughts. Finally, you can slowly construct an “identity board” and add pictures of your perfect, ideal future.
5. Write a Poem with Emotional Adjectives – Actually, I love writing and teaching poetry, so this is one of my favourites. Have students write a poem describing how they feel about themselves and others close to them in their lives. For example, what activities make up their “identity” and how do they feel about them? If they try something new, how do they feel? Why, you ask? Well, the purpose is to help them discover their passions, and what makes them unique.
Well, that’s my short and sweet post this Monday morning! It’s a short one as I took a break this past weekend to enjoy the summer weather with a good friend in a beautiful city. Be sure you do so once in a while, too! (Feel free to check out my posts on taking breaks and getting enough sleep).
By the way, what makes you unique? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!
Have a lovely and productive Monday!
P.S. Photo fans, the photo for today’s poster is one I took by the Atlantic Coast in Lisbon, Portugal last month.
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