Classroom Activities: Culture Matters
Students are sometimes unsure or intimidated by the concept of the Culture Matters piece; to demonstrate, I start out with what I call "Deodorant Day". Each student is required to pose one question about each stick of deodorant to model the inquiry phase of the project. As a class, we then group these questions until we have a few themes or ideas around which we could build a thesis. For these two sticks of deodorant, these themes usually include "gender," "health," "appearance," and "athleticism." We then discuss what types of theses might grow from these themes if we conducted research to answer our questions.
As a follow-up activity, small groups of students pool the objects they have brought with them into the classroom and apply the same steps, starting from an object and ending up with a potential thesis. These objects have included knit scarves, car keys, coffee cups, and designer sunglasses, which has led to theses involving our culture valuing comfort, security, stress, and status.