About Me

Grey Wall

IDENTITY

"When you know yourself, you are empowered.

When you accept yourself, you are invincible."

- Tina Lifford

DRIVING QUESTIONS:

  1. What makes me who I am, good and bad?

  2. How much control do I have over my identity?

  3. How do I define my identity for myself and others?

  4. Have aspects of my identity changed over the years?

  5. What are the different roles I play in my daily life?

  6. Has my identity ever led to conflict, internal or external?

  7. Why are certain things not a part of my identity?

There are hundreds - if not thousands - of pieces that add up to make you who you are. Some of those factors are within your control: they are chosen by you. However, many are not. Part of your identity is embedded deep in your DNA, and thus is perhaps unchangeable and predetermined. Simply stated, our identity is ultimately ours to change, accept, and develop.

Aristotle (a wise old dead guy) once said, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." As you move toward the middle and then the end of high school and the beginning of whatever comes next, most of you probably try or have tried many different identities on. That's what this stage of life is often about, really. Finding and creating yourself and your place in this big, crazy world. The work of identity, however, is not unique to you or people your age.  We are all of us - everyone in the world - on this adventure and in this struggle together to be well and truly understood.

As our work in this unit will show, the journey towards knowing and accepting yourself (and others) is often full of surprises, disappointments, victories, doubts, fears, setbacks, and - most importantly - growth. After all, it takes courage to be who you really are, to be seen.

 

So, who are you? Who do you want to be? And, looking at the bigger picture, who does the world need you to become?

POSSIBLE TEXTS

"Why teens may never be the same after the pandemic"
by Scottie Andrew

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Teenagers and experts weigh in on the short and long term impact coronavirus, cancellations, and quarantine might have on our lives and identities.

"My Youth in 27 Records"
by QuestLove

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The Roots drummer shares the albums that defined him, from his years growing up in a musical and religious family to the day he landed his first record deal.

"Cross"
by Langston Hughes

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The narrator works through his thoughts and feelings about his identity as the son of a white father and a black mother. 

"The Names"
by Billy Collins

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One year after the events of September 11, poet Billy Collins was invited to read this poem for the US Congress.

"Beginning, Middle & End"
by Phil Kaye

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A slam poet describes the story of a life and the way memories and moments stick with us - usually not in the order they happened.

"Self-Concept"
by Saul McLeod

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An informative piece by a psychology lecturer gives insight into the research beyond identity.

"The Fire on the 57 Bus"
by Dashka Slater

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The true story of an assault that took place in Oakland, California, a diverse city where wealthy areas contrast sharply with poverty and crime-ridden ones. Two teens from very different backgrounds cross paths and are forever changed by a crime. 

"Just Walk on By:
Black Men & Public Space"
by Brent Staples

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A journalist explores the alienation he feels from pedestrians assuming he poses a threat to them simply because he is black, and the adjustments he has made to his own behavior as he walks the streets at night.

"Where I'm From"
by George Ella Lyon

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A poet considers a wide variety of things that contributed to and shaped the person they have grown to become.

"My Name" from 
The House on Mango Street
by Sandra Cisneros

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A young Latina girl, growing up in Chicago with Chicanos and Puerto Ricans, considers the origins of her name.

"If language tells us who we are, then who am I?"
by Stan Grant

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An Australian journalist considers the role languages have played in shaping his identity, especially his heritage as an aboriginal Wiradjuri through his father.

"The Most Important Question in Your Life"
by Mark Manson

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A self-help writer and blogger challenges readers to consider what pain and struggle they are willing to accept to get their goals.

"Legal Alien"
by Pat Mora

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A poet describes the different ways she is viewed and treated by both Mexicans and Americans.

"Fish Cheeks"
by Amy Tan

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On Christmas Eve, a Chinese family invites American friends, a minister's family including a boy the narrator has a crush on, for a very traditional dinner.

"Photograph from September 11"
by Wisława Szymborska

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A Polish poet describes a heartbreaking image she sees in the newspaper after the terrorist attacks in New York City on September 11, 2001.

"Night Cafés" from
Silver Screen Fiend
by Patton Oswalt

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The comedian uses Vincent Van Gogh's painting to introduce the defining moments, people, and places that forever changed him for better or worse.

"True, Personal Stories of Science" from the Story Collider Podcast

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A podcast presenting stories about identity, whether its an external sense of cultural identity or an internal sense of self.  Features pieces from a mathematician/comics writer and an environmental communications coordinator.

"Life After Sports"
by Emma Vickers

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A sports psychology student presents information about the impact depression can have on retired athletes after they leave their sport forever.

"Digging"
by Seamus Heaney

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A writer sets to work at his desk, but a glimpse of his father through the window prompts a series of recollections about his childhood and family.

"Beauty"
by Alice Walker

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The author details a childhood accident and the impact it had on her self-image throughout much of her life.

"We Wear the Mask"
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

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A narrator considers how people hide their true feelings behind a false expression. 

"10 Facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier"
by Stacy Conradt

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An informative article full of well researched details about the national memorial located just outside Washington, D.C.

"Deer Hit"
by Jon Loomis

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An older narrator looks back on an accident from his teen years that left a permanent scar.

"What Your Most Vivid Memories Say About You"
by Susan K. Whitbourne

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A professor of psychology and brain sciences on how self-defining memories shape your identity.

RESOURCES

VIDEOS

 

 

About Mr. Armstrong

This will be my twelfth year teaching English Language Arts and my fourth working at Carthage High School, which I graduated from in 2005. I love being back in my hometown helping our sophomores find an appreciation for reading and writing while challenging them to discover and develop the value, depth, and power of their own voices. Hopefully this will be a year of daring greatly and learning bravely.

 

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