A key part of identity development throughout a person’s life is storytelling. The stories we tell ourselves about what we’ve seen, heard, and experienced help us to construct our own identities—our unique answer to the question, “Who am I?” They also allow us to communicate who we are to others. These stories form what psychologist Daniel McAdams calls “narrative identity,” an individual’s life story that blends memories from the past with the present and an imagined future.1
In this lesson, students will start by creating personal identity charts and reflecting on the many factors that make them the unique individuals that they are. Then they will watch a powerful spoken-word performance that will help them reflect on how the stories we tell about ourselves can shape how we understand our own identities, as well as how others may perceive us. They will also consider the risks and rewards that come with sharing aspects of who we are with others, both in person and online. Finally, students will draw connections between the spoken-word poem and an informational text about narrative identity in order to explore how stories we tell ourselves can help us to construct our own sense of self.
- 1 : Dan P. McAdams, “Identity and the Life Story,” in Autobiographical Memory and the Construction of a Narrative Self, ed. Robyn Fivush and Catherine A. Haden (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers, 2003), 187.