Here is a range of short activity ideas for the topic Changing Perceptions.
Work with students to generate class woking definitions of the words ‘stereotype’, ‘prejudice’ and ‘discrimination’. These words are often used interchangeably although they have very distinct definitions. They have a clear progressive link, and so by understanding the meanings of the words, students can come to better understand the concepts. Our suggested definitions:
Stereotypes - these are beliefs held about a group of people or type of person. A stereotype states that all people who belong to a certain group are the same, they think, dress, act, and talk the same way.
Prejudice - this is the action of ‘pre-judging’ someone; forming an opinion about someone or a group of people that is not based on reason or actual experience
Discrimination - treating someone differently, usually worse, because of who they are
Discrimination or a Fair Decision?:
In 2005, a shopping centre in England made a bold move which caused outrage from many people who said it was a form of discrimination. Ask students to read the newspaper article below and ask them to discuss if they think if
their decision was discrimination or a fair decision?
(n.b. a ‘hoodie’ is a large jumper with a hood)
Shopping Mall bans ‘Hoodies’
Hoodies and baseball caps have been banned at a shopping centre in Kent, in an attempt to tackle anti-social behaviour. The move was supported by local police who said that it would reduce intimidating conduct in the shopping area.Action was taken by the shopping mall after a series of anti-social incidents involving youths, occurring primarily in the evenings and weekends.
The centre management claims that youths who wear baseball caps and hoodies create an intimidating environment in the shopping centre, which is driving customers away. As these items of clothing obscure the perpetrators faces, other guests at the retail centre feel uncomfortable.
The shopping centre also stated that by wearing hoodies and baseball caps, CCTV networks were rendered ineffective as faces could not be registered.
Image courtesy of cjc4454/Flickr
People who have Changed Perceptions:
Over time, as human rights and equality have become increasingly important, people have challenged the stereotypes which they have encountered. Give students fact files on a few prominent people who have done this. When they have read through the information below, choose one of the people to research in more detail, or someone else who has challenged perceptions. It might be someone who is very famous in your country. Make an in-depth profile about them to present to the class. Why not do it in the style of a newspaper article or comic strip?
Which other people do you know of who have challenged perceptions?
Who: Martin Luther King Jr
When: 1950s and 1960s
What: Campaigned for racial equality in the USA
Who: Germaine Greer
When: 1970s- present
What: Key role in modern feminism to change the perception of women in modern society
Who: Daniel Witthaus
What: Challenges homophobia and changes perceptions of homosexuality
Challenging Perceptions in Films:
Ask students to think about which films support stereotypes and which portray characters which do not follow stereotypes and therefore try to work against them. Are we influenced by what we see in films?
Perceptions on Young People:
Show this video to your class.
It has been said that in some countries in recent generations the relationship between the younger and older generations is deteriorating and young people are seen principally as a nusiance.
“Young people are like planes, you only hear about them once they crash”
Members of the UK Youth Parliament made a video to challenge the negative stereotypes of young people which feature in the media. Watch the video and share your opinions with the class. (Made by UNICEF uniceftagd/YouTube)