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The Susan Boyle-ism Lesson Plan

I am sure you’ll agree. The Susan Boyle phenomenon has TEACHABLE MOMENT written ALL over it. Goodness! Any educator, or parent, really wouldn’t need a lesson plan to teach, why this is an important issue to discuss. There’s an obvious question worth trying to answer. Why are looks, so important to people? 

Open the dialogue:
Who defines beauty? would be my number one question. We blame the media, poor parenting, mean peers – you name it, we blame it – yet we’re all a product of being defined by these -isms; I blogged about last week. 

Warm-up Exercise:
After reviewing and discussing the –isms (are there more?), ask students to list what group(s) -isms they belong to? I bet you would get a lot of blank stares. I am taking the liberty to create a quick and easy lesson plan, in an effort to discuss and uncover the real issues surrounding Susan Boyle’s story. 

Susan Boyle Lesson Plan:
1)  View the Good Morning America (via YouTube) interview with Diane Sawyer. List three adjectives that describe Susan Boyle’s looks and three that describe Diane Sawyer’s looks. What are some snap generalizations one could make about these two women? Create a chart comparing and contrasting the two. 
2) Based on the interview, what are the stereotypes surrounding one’s looks?
4) If you could, what would you like to ask Susan Boyle? Would you share your reaction to the video?
5) Will the Susan Boyle phenomenon change the way people judge others? 
6)  What stereotypical categories does Susan Boyle fit into? List them.
7)  Share a time when someone misjudged you. What were your immediate feelings?
8) Share a time when YOU misjudged someone else. Explain your story.

9) Read the following quote from the New York Times. "Miss Boyle is unmarried (and unkissed, she told the program), has no job, lives with her cat and has until now sung mostly in her local church. But she has become a heroine not only to people dreaming of being catapulted from obscurity to fame but also to those who cheer her triumph over looks-ism and ageism in a world that so values youth and beauty." (Via NYT’s article, Unlikely Singer Is YouTube Sensation by By Sarah Lyall)

10) What is the writer trying to convey to her readers? What words from the article help to support your answer. 

Just so you know, these questions and exercises are based on my impression of this story, and certainly comes from a journalist’s perspective. I am, however, more interested in reading your feedback, .