The context behind the learning task and its purpose was explained by Mr. Kwon: To create a plaster mask which will be painted with images/words/aspects of their personal, social, ethnic and spiritual identity, with examples from their lives, formative events (local and global) and challenges, their belief systems, their families, their social roles and relationships with people in their lives, their experience of gender, culture and ethnicity, language, experiences with their parents’ country of origin, and their interaction with the Catholic Church and their faith. The idea of telling their stories orally as a digitally recordable story is also being considered as a next step.
Students met with Rob and received a quick orientation regarding the medium of sheets of gauze plaster and the learning task before them. Students were asked to conceptualize how they would divide the finished mask into four quadrants to allocate space to each of the areas of personal, social, ethnic and spiritual aspects of what make up their identity. Ideas to use a jigsaw design, a criss-cross X design, strips, were visually highlighted and discussed.
Rob explained and modelled the need to take the sheet of plaster and cut two-dimensional shapes using the entire sheet which would create layer upon layer upon one student’s face, creating the finished mask. Students worked efficiently in pairs to prepare all of the necessary materials and workspace for the creation of the mask through the process of layering (done by one student as the other sat, face exposed, and using water to smooth out the application of layers. Students applied a base of Vaseline and water on their faces to condition them for the application of plaster strips/shapes. After the mask had dried adequately to a hardened consistency, students added more plaster strips and smoothed out imperfections by hand, adding water.
-Some common themes and statements made by students in the post survey about the identity mask learning task included the following information:
-the learning experience had the power of bringing the class together in many different ways
-that is a true celebration of diversity as positive and NOT divisive
-students acquired a greater awareness of their culture and their identity, a realization of who they really are
-there was a re-affirmation of who they really are, receiving comments and feedback from peers
-students felt the experience led to confidence building and dispelled peers’ or perceived misconceptions of appearance equating their identity
-dispel misinformation about what countries students originate from, what their experiences should be and what they are perceived to be like