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Societal attitudes and beliefs: Class culture

Class culture | Food and me | What is body image? | Who says so? | Culture and body image

Suggested learning outcome

Students will

  • describe the feelings, beliefs, and other factors that have the potential to influence their self-image (3A4).

Underlying concepts

Attitudes and values: Reflecting on their values and beliefs.

Possible learning activity

Graffiti sheets

Head 6–8 separate, large sheets of newsprint with each question to be answered. Place these on tables or hang them on walls. Ask the students to circulate around the room, adding their contributions to each sheet. Referring to the class guidelines, remind the students that everyone can have their say and no one can cross out someone else's work or make inappropriate comments about it. A useful addition is for the students to put "M" for male and "F" for female next to their responses. They also have the right to pass; some questions may not apply to all the students. The questions could include:

  • What are you watching on television at the moment?
  • Which magazines do you like to read?
  • What is the best film you have seen recently?
  • Who is your favourite singer or group at the moment?
  • What is your favourite music?
  • What are your favourite games or toys at the moment (including electronic games)?
  • Which television ads do you like?
  • Which are your favourite types of clothes/brands of clothes?
  • Who is the person you most admire at the moment?
  • What types of books do you like to read?
  • What sports do you play?
  • What cultural groups do you perform with (for example, kapahaka, Samoan, Cambodian, and other ethnic cultural groups; orchestra; choir; drama; dance groups)?
  • What other groups do you belong to?

It is then useful to ask why. This could be done by:

  • adding "Why?" to the graffiti sheet question;
  • holding a class discussion to review common ideas and trends as shown on the graffiti sheets;
  • encouraging personal writing (with optional illustrations).

To conclude the activity, acknowledge the influence that the media has on the ways we think about ourselves.

Teachers' note

Students in years 4–6 represent a diverse range of developmental stages in their learning, socialisation, maturity, and identity development. They are likely to have distinct gender differences in relation to body image and perceptions of themselves. This is further complicated by socio-economic and cultural aspects (including aspects of ethnic, urban/rural, family, and youth cultures). When considering aspects of body image with these students, it is useful to know what their current interests and fads are and what influences currently affect them most, especially those that dictate fashions and trends in clothing, toys, hairstyles, body adornments, hobbies and games, music, and social activities.

This activity provides ways of collecting information to facilitate planning for other parts of this unit of work. The graffiti sheets are a useful way to gather less sensitive information. Consider the literacy skills of your students when wording questions.