Symbols and Social Mythology

Activity Steps:

Identify the variety of meanings that a single symbol may have depending upon who sees it, and when and where it is seen.

1. Look:
Explore the artist screens and see how they use symbols to express ideas about themselves.
2. Brainstorm:
To recognize how widespread symbols are within our culture, brainstorm a list of symbols that a particular group (for example, a sports team, a school club, or a social group) uses to represent itself to the world. Are these symbols unique to the group you identified, or do other groups use the same symbols? What do the symbols mean to people outside the group?
3. Research:
Choose one symbol to research. Identify at least three different situations where the symbol is used: in different cultures, different historical periods, or for different purposes. For example, eagles have been used as symbols in many cultures and historical periods. Your job is to find out why each culture adopted the symbol and how it was used in that particular situation.
4. Create and show:
Present your research to the class, and conclude with what you think is the best example of the symbol being matched to a particular use or culture. Explain why you think so.
5. Reflect:
In your journal, write about where and when symbols appear. How do they help groups create a common identity? How can the meaning of a symbol change over time?