Tag Archives: Identity

‘The African Doctor’

25 Mar

I recently watched The African Doctor.  This film explores the experiences of a recently arrived family of Congolese descent as they seek to find their place in a rural village in France.

Although overly simplistic at times, the text engages with ideas of tolerance, acceptance, identity and communal action.  For these reasons, I think the text has the potential to engage students.

That said, I think I would be reluctant to study this text in isolation.  I think it would work best either as part of a comparative unit, or as a related text for AOS Journey or Discovery.

‘Refugee Boy’

12 Mar

I have just finished reading Benjamin Zephaniah’s Refugee Boy.

Despite some initial concerns that Refugee Boy would be simply another variation on Boy Overboard or Girl Underground, I found myself hooked from the outset.  I think my interest was stimulated by the text’s opening – a short outline of a mixed-race family’s experiences in Ethiopia, followed by an almost identical incident, this time in Eritrea.  I found this to be a very effective way of illustrating the complexities of that family’s situation and in illustrating the challenges faced during times of war.

I think this would be an interesting text to study in Years 7 or 8 in a unit with a focus on identity.  Indeed, the text deals with the tensions between self-characterisation and social identification.

It would also be worthy of inclusion in a ‘Coming of Age’ unit as it charts both the protagonist’s growing awareness of his social surrounds as well as his community’s growing awareness of the political and social landscapes in which they exist.

It would also be interesting to study this text in a unit about migration or refugee experiences, perhaps in combination with Boy OverboardGirl UndergroundThe Arrival and/or some newspaper clippings.

‘Boys Without Names’

4 Mar

I recently read Kashmira Sheth’s Boys Without Names and loved it! I think it appealed as it is a narrative about resilience, strength, friendship and family.  In this text, Gopal is separated from his family and has to survive in challenging circumstances.  He also needs to be build relationships with a group of boys in the same predicament as himself.

I think this text would be particularly well suited to a Year 7 or 8 class.

‘Brown Brother’

2 Feb

Brown Brother‘ is an inspiring spoken word poem delivered by high school student Joshua Iosefo.  It is a profound and emotional examination (and later rejection) of stereotypes; a reminder that honouring one’s heritage and conforming to limiting stereotypes are not the same things.

This would be a great text to study as related material in Distinctive Voices, an elective that is part of the HSC Standard English Course.  Students could engage with the ways in which gestures, tone, occasion and audience enhance the distinctiveness of the voice.

It would also be interesting to include as part of a study about identity, or perhaps as a suite of poetry engaging with the construction and representation of self.  Students could even be challenged to write their own shorter-form spoken word poem about themselves, applicable stereotypes and responses to these.


1 Feb

I recently read Alan Paton’s short story ‘Ha’penny‘.  Although told simply, it is a profoundly moving narrative about a young boy’s desire for acceptance, belonging and a family of his own.

This would be an interesting text to study as part of a unit about identity; students could focus on how individuals construct themselves in relation to others.

It would also be interesting to study in relation to belonging.  There, the focus would be on the yearning for acceptance, the lengths gone to create connections and the circumstances in which belonging is achieved.

In addition, the text offers an interesting perspective on journeys, offering opportunities for students to explore the journeys of Ha’penny, the narrator and Mrs Maarman.

Familiar environments

30 Jan

Alice Eather’s poem ‘My Story Is Your Story‘ is a powerful poem about the different ways in which Indigenous and non-Indigenous people view Aboriginal land.  Through a series of haunting contrasts Eather is able to communicate the tension between connection to land and destruction for profit.

This would be an interesting text to study as part of a unit about Australian identity as it highlights the fundamental disconnect between viewpoints and, in turn, flags the callous disregard corporations can have for established and entrenched cultural connections.

It would also be an interesting text to study in AOS Discovery for HSC.  Considered alongside The Tempest, for example, it could be used to highlight how perspectives shape discovery.  Considered alongside Go Back to Where You Came From, it could be used to enrich a discussion regarding discovery, Australian identity, racism and responsibility.

The text could also be used as part of a junior AOS with a focus on change, belonging or journeys.  Here, focus would need to be on the role of context in shaping representation and value.

Eather’s poem could also be studied alongside, or as part of a suite of poetry which includes, Selina Nwulu’s ‘Home is a Hostile Lover‘. Together, the poems offer interesting representations of connection to place and the role of corporations in threatening the physicality and sacredness of place.


Language and Gender related material

3 Oct

I cannot stop thinking about the different types of texts I would introduce students to as part of the ‘Language and Gender’ elective in Extension 1 English.  As such, I have started to compile a list (see below).  I plan to keep revisiting and updating this list as new ideas come to me.

  1. The Bluest Eye (novel)
  2. Beloved (novel)
  3. Americanah (novel)
  4. ‘Girl’ (short story)
  5. The visual album accompanying Beyonce’s Lemonade
  6.  Girl Rising (film)
  7. Poetry of Maya Angelou
  8. Poetry of Warsan Shire
  9. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (autobiography)
  10. Bad Feminist (collection of essays)
  11. The Twyborn Affair (novel)
  12. Annie John (novel)
  13. Quiet‘ (spoken word poem)
  14. Anzac Girls (television series)
  15. Call the Midwife (television series)
  16. The Help (film and novel)
  17. Love Child (television series)
  18. House Husbands (television series)
  19. Black Eye‘ (spoken word poem)
  20. Spear‘ (spoken word poem)
  21. I think she was a she‘ (spoken word poem)
  22. Real Men‘ (spoken word poem)
  23. She Said‘ (spoken word poem)
  24. Macbeth (play)
  25. ‘One Word’ (short story)
  26. The Color Purple (novel)
  27. Mr Selfridge (television series)
  28. Scandal (television series)
  29. Bush Mechanics (television series).

‘This is what a feminist looks like’

7 Aug

President Barack Obama recently penned an essay for Glamour Magazine in which he discussed feminism; what it is, why it is important, and why men should be feminists too.

I think this would be a great text to use as part of a unit about gender and identity as it challenges the perception that a prerequisite for identifying as a feminist is being a woman.

Youth Week

16 Apr

In celebration of Youth Week, SBS recently featured a selection of short films (1 minute in length) about the experiences of young people in Australia.

One film, entitled ‘Stephanie’s Film‘, showcases the experience of a young Muslim girl as she strives to overcome negative comments and become the first Australian ballerina to wear a hijab while dancing professionally.  The juxtaposition between the ugly negatively of the comments and the beauty of her dancing is striking.

Another film, entitled ‘Taz’s Film‘ offers insights into the experiences and emotions of an Indigenous brotherboy as he discusses his struggle with gender identity.  Here, the images of him boxing provide a powerful metaphor for both his inner turmoil and strength.

These short films could be used as part of units exploring Australian literature and experience, identity, youth experiences, and/or autobiography.  They could also be utilised in an introduction to the Year 12 Standard English module on ‘Distinctive Voices’ to help students to understand the ways in which experience and representation shapes voice and the messages conveyed by distinctive voices.

Pairs of texts

31 Mar

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about interesting textual pairings for study as part of a comparative unit.  Many of my ideas are not suitable for my school context or the ability levels of my classes.  However, I do think that, in the right contexts and with the right classes, all could form the basis of interesting and engaging units.

  1. A Lesson Before Dying (novel) & To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
  2. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Freedom Writers (film)
  3. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  4. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Schindler’s List (film)
  5. Americanah (novel) & selected episodes of Black-ish (television series)
  6. A Monster Calls (novel) & Boy (film)
  7. A Monster Calls (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  8. Anzac Girls (television series) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  9. Bad Feminist (collection of essays) & For Colored Girls (film)
  10. Brave New World (novel) & The Crucible (play)
  11. Brave New World (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  12. Brave New World (novel) & V for Vendetta (film)
  13. Briar Rose (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  14. Briar Rose (novel) & Lion (film)
  15. Briar Rose (novel) & Night (autobiography)
  16. Briar Rose (novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  17. Deadline (novel) & Dead Poets Society (film)
  18. Deadline (novel) & The Fault In Our Stars (film)
  19. Deadline (novel) & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  20. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  21. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  22. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Invictus (film)
  23. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Remember the Titans (films)
  24. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  25. El Deafo (graphic novel) & The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel)
  26. Etiquette and Espionage (novel) & Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (film)
  27. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & After the Storm (film)
  28. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & 11’09’01 (collection of short films)
  29. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & Lion (film)
  30. Face (novel) & The Intouchables (film)
  31. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & Persepolis (graphic novel or film)
  32. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & V For Vendetta (film)
  33. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (choreopoem) & Mustang (film)
  34. Frankenstein (novel) & Frankenweenie (film)
  35. Frankenstein (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  36. Frankenstein (novel) & The Rocky Horror Picture Show (film)
  37. Girl Rising (film) & Poetry of Maya Angelou (poetry)
  38. Hamlet (play) & Nutshell (novel)
  39. Hiroshima (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  40. Life of Pi (novel) & Castaway (film)
  41. Lord of the Flies (novel) & Where the Wild Things Are (film)
  42. Lord of the Flies (novel) & The Hunger Games (film)
  43. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Designated Survivor (television series)
  44. Macbeth (play) & The Dressmaker (film)
  45. Macbeth (play) & The Gods of Wheat Street (television series)
  46. Maus (graphic novel) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  47. Maus (graphic novel) & Night (autobiography)
  48. Maus (graphic novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  49. March (novel) & Little Wome(novel)
  50. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (novel) & The Fault in Our Stars (film)
  51. Night (autobiography) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  52. Night (autobiography) & Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography)
  53. Night (autobiography) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  54. Night (autobiography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  55. Night (autobiography) & The Seven Stages of Grieving (play)
  56. Nona and Me (novel) & Looking for Alibrandi (film)
  57. Nona and Me (novel) & September (film)
  58. Of Mice and Men (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  59. Othello (play) & V For Vendetta (film)
  60. Othello (play) & Gone Girl (film)
  61. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  62. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Lion (film)
  63. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Maus (graphic novel)
  64. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Night (autobiography)
  65. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  66. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bride and Prejudice (film)
  67. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bridget Jones’s Diary (film)
  68. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Mustang (film)
  69. Refugee Boy (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  70. Refugee Boy (novel) & The African Doctor (film)
  71. Refugee Boy (novel) & The Arrival (picture book)
  72. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Alex and Eve (film)
  73. Romeo & Juliet (play) & A United Kingdom (film)
  74. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  75. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Hairspray (film)
  76. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Meet the Patels (film)
  77. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Mustang (film)
  78. Romeo & Juliet (play) & My Big Fat Greek Wedding (film)
  79. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Tanna (film)
  80. Romeo & Juliet (play) & The Fault in Our Stars (film or novel)
  81. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Titanic (film)
  82. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Viceroy’s House (film)
  83. Romeo & Juliet (play) & West Side Story (film)
  84. Scattered Lives (play) & Americannah (novel)
  85. Scattered Lives (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  86. Scattered Lives (play) & Looking for Alibrandi (novel)
  87. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Peter Skrzynecki (poetry)
  88. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  89. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  90. Schindler’s Ark (novel) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  91. Speak (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  92. Stargirl (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  93. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  94. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (memoir) & Queen of Katwe (film)
  95. The Color Purple (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  96. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  97. The Dreamer (novel) & Billy Elliot (film)
  98. The First Third (novel) & Boy (film)
  99. The Fault in Our Stars (novel) & Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)
  100. The Help (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  101. The Help (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  102. The Help (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  103. The Outsiders (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  104. The Outsiders (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  105. The Outsiders (novel) & Yolngu Boy (film)
  106. The Rabbits (picture book) & Deadly, Unna? (novel)
  107. The Rabbits (picture book) & Poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (poetry)
  108. The Rabbits (picture book) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  109. The Scarlet Letter (novel) & Easy A (film)
  110. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & The Real Inspector Hound (play)
  111. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  112. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (novel) & Hamlet (play or film)
  113. The Kite Runner (novel) & Big Fish (film)
  114. The Kite Runner (novel) & Boy (film)
  115. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  116. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  117. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Poetry of Langston Hughes (poetry)
  118. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  119. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  120. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  121. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Help (film)
  122. To This Day (graphic novel) & Wonder (novel)
  123. To This Day (graphic novel) & Face (novel)
  124. Vernon God Little (novel) & Elephant (film)
  125. Voices from Chernobyl (non-fiction) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  126. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry).