A Teenager's Identity

The end of an IMYC unit is marked with an “Exit Point”. It is opportunity for students to demonstrate what they have incorporated regarding the big idea that has underpinned the content in all of their classes for the past 8 weeks. The students are given the task of sharing their thoughts, in this case, in the form of a PowerPoint, Prezi or Keynote presentation. It is one of the few times that there is no rubric and there are no guidelines, only the instruction to share whatever is important with respect to the big idea.

So there we sit, awaiting the philosophical input of our 8th graders. One by one they stand. Their theme?

Our sense of self and that of others is continually developing through our different interactions and impacts on how we exist in the world.

 Did they make the connection? Do they realize the dynamic nature of their own identity? Do they understand that their identity will change over the years? In fact, one of them outright makes the claim, “Our identity changes. What we were like when we were 9 is different from what we are now”.

There are moments of goofiness, awkwardness, trepidation, and shyness. There’s even fear. They each address the big idea and their definition of it. But then one by one they attempt to communicate what their own identity is. Their diverse backgrounds are astounding: Hungary, Austria, South Africa, France, the UK, Holland, India, adopted from China to the U.S.A., U.S.A., Iceland, Ukraine. They are all 3rd culture kids. They each allude to this part of their self. Yet then they drive deeper. Musings of culture, sports, likes/dislikes, family, religion, and values are shared. One boy pauses before exclaiming at the end, “And this is who I am”. He has put himself out there. And it is touching.

In the end, each student has reflected on, identified, and communicated the essence of self. And that has value. It’s empowering, especially to young teenagers, to know who you are.


Image: Culture: Cultural Identity? Personality? Language? Reality?. (n.d.). ChineseBreeze Unorthodox Language Learning Blog. Retrieved September 26, 2014, from http://chinese-breeze.com/culture-cultural-identity-personality-language-reality/