An outline for a simple “branding” activity that can be used to teach a wide range of ideas (from perspectives to methods). In providing a lesson outline the idea is to make the activity fairly loose to allow teachers to adapt it in ways that suit their particular style and level of teaching.
Although this is really just a simple evaluation exercise disguised as something a bit more interesting it does have its benefits. Things like:
• students more-actively engaged in their learning.
• targeted teacher time for those who need it.
• greater student investment in their learning.
• A focus on both knowledge and higher skills.
While you can make the activity as simple or as complex as you like (by adding or removing different layers), the basic idea involves choosing a sociologist / perspective / theory or method and asking students to “market it” as if they were selling sausages (other meat / vegetarian options are available).
• Divide the class into small groups (or work individually if you prefer).
• Each group takes on the role of a Marketing / Design Agency tasked with selling whatever you want them to learn (such as different sociological perspectives on education).
For a short version of the exercise:
• give each group a perspective on education to sell.
• their task is to “represent the brand” by designing an advertising proposal that shows it off in the best possible light to a customer (i.e. the focus will be on identifying and emphasising the strengths of the perspective).
• if you want to extend this you can also commission each group to design a proposal for “attack adverts” that aim to show competing perspectives in a poorer light (i.e. you identify and emphasise the weaknesses of competing perspectives).
For both tasks you need to remind students that as reputable agencies they must always be factual in their statements. If they are less than truthful their proposal may be rejected for falling foul of advertising regulations.
For a longer version of the exercise you can commission each group to create “a brand” for their respective perspectives (theories / sociologists / methods or whatever).
To develop the brand they need to come up with a range of proposals under a number of different headings. These might, for example, involve the following:
Functionalism: The Brand
Who are we?
Students will need to describe the brand: i.e. they have to research and understand what Functionalism involves)
What we do
This part of the proposal focuses on interpretation – explaining what “Functionalism means”, for example.
What we offer
Here students need to identify the strengths of “the brand” and apply it to social examples, such as functions of education or functions of the family.
Why you should choose [name of brand]
In the final section students are encouraged to examine the weaknesses of “rival brands” (such as Marxism or Interactionism).
When the branding proposals have been completed each group can present their proposal to the rest of the class. In this way all of your students are given access to information that enables them to understand and evaluate a sociological perspective.
If you run the branding exercise in relation to a specific topic (such as education or the family in this instance) it should also give them practice in applying their ideas to specific situations and questions.
As with the shorter version you need to remind students that as reputable agencies they must always be factual in their statements.
A pdf version of the above is now available if you want it.