Warning: This resource may contain references to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who may have passed away.
8 — Breaking down stereotypes and exploring the unexpected
The focus in this sequence is on challenging assumptions, breaking down stereotypes (oversimplified or misguided ideas or images of a group of things or people) and thinking critically and creatively about the construction of life stories.
Activity 1: More than emos
Ask the students if they have come across the term emo before and what they understand by the term. They can then work in pairs or small groups and write down what they believe most people would assume about the emo boys pictured in this Wikimedia photograph:
- favourite music or band
- frequently used words
- where they live and/or hang out
- a favourite film
- a favourite preoccupation (something they often think and talk about, practise or research).
Ask the students:
- How have your assumptions about people proven wrong in the past?
- How much advertising is based on assumptions and stereotypes?
Stories that rely on stereotypes don’t stand up to much scrutiny and can be boring and offensive. The aim of a good life story is to avoid, if not challenge, stereotypes.
Activity 2: Rhys and Danny
In this activity, the students should imagine that the information in the document Emo lives was disclosed to them by the fictional characters Rhys and Danny.
In the pairs or groups formed in Activity 1, the students should now consider the list of statements about Rhys. What initial assumptions from Activity 1 are contradicted or made less clear? Repeat this exercise for Danny. Are the statements in Emo lives probable and/or possible?
Activity 3: Using narrative data to create a life story
The students should return to the Life story matrix worksheet to make note of a possible frame for a life story that might be constructed for one of the two young men, Rhys and Danny.
Students may require explicit instruction about the use of cohesive text devices, imagery, vocabulary, grammar and so on in the construction of a text. While the students will not be required to write a complete life story based on Rhys or Danny, they will be led through some possible avenues and textual features and devices they will use in Assessment task 2.
In particular, each pair or group should create the following:
- a possible title
- four abstract nouns of particular relevance
- a cohesive image or concept around which to structure the text (by way of an angle)
- a metaphor that will strengthen the story and provide cohesion
- an engaging opening sentence
- an engaging closure to the story.
A concluding discussion should lead the class to consider approaches to the life story they are constructing and presenting in Sequence 12. This discussion must address matters of ethics and privacy.
With attention on Assessment task 2, the students should consider any stereotypes often attached to their subject according to age, gender, race, location, physical attributes, birthplace, family, occupation, appearance and so on.