Unit 3: Questioning images: representation and critical visual literacy

Activity 2: Role reversal

Estimated time: 30 minutes

Learning Objectives

  • To develop your critical thinking skills in relation to how certain groups in society are seen and perceived in terms of roles, status and power.

Resources needed

  • Internet access


Exercise 1: Because I’m worth it

Please read pages 4, 5, 22, and 23 of the ‘Critical Literacy in Global Citizenship Education’ booklet. This material introduces the Open Space for Dialogue and Enquiry (OSDE) methodology, a tool for promoting critical literacy which is widely used by education practitioners around the world. The aim of OSDE is to create spaces of dissensus where Western hegemonic ethnocentrism can be examined and relativised. OSDE has been recommended in various educational policy documents and translated into several languages. 

Go to page number 5 and fill in the six procedures for enquiry in the table. Then, think about yourself as a teacher and write your own estimation of your confidence regarding these procedures. 

Procedures for enquiryMy ranking

Now, look at the second photograph in this article, which is from a series called ‘Let’s Talk About Race’, published in The Oprah Magazine (May 2017). The pictures in this series show women or girls of colour in a role reversal from the ways in which they are stereotypically seen (or not seen) compared to White women or girls.

Take five minutes to write or draw your first thoughts about the picture. While doing that, make as many questions as you can about the photograph and the meanings it conveys to you. You can also consider the following questions:

Is there a relationship between ethnicity and type of job or social status?
Do we tend to associate certain jobs or roles with people from a particular ethnic background?
Should people stick to the roles that are expected from them?

Choose one question you would like to reflect on in more depth, and explore this question from different angles. 

You may want to consider what people in your community often say about it and compare those views with your own.

Activity completed!

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