Four Key Questions

Why the four key questions: Who am I? Who are we? Where do we live? and How do we all live together? are integral to the work of SLN.

We all have a basic need to be seen and heard as individuals, so in order to begin to understand and value diversity, students need time and space to positively explore and voice their own sense of identity.

Asking SLN’s first key question Who am I? is a natural entry point to exploring identity. It provides an opportunity for students to articulate how a sense of self is constructed and what it means in our daily lives. It is proven that our sense of identity impacts on self-esteem, which in turn affects behaviour, relationships and our concepts of society and the world. Exploring the complexity of identity is the challenge we face.

Identity is fluid, dynamic and dependent on our social situation, our relationships, our culture and the point in our lives at which we find ourselves. It is important to work with this fluidity and complexity, and to go beyond the obvious in order to lead to feeling comfortable both about our uniqueness, as well as our commonalities and differences with others.

By looking at ourselves in the different roles and identities, we open our eyes to possibilities, which support our growth into feeling comfortable with who we are. Many challenges in life can shut down this process and may limit our sense of identity. One of the aims of SLN is to provide a vehicle to encourage young people to stay open and curious and to develop critical thinking skills.

While exploring the first key question it becomes apparent that we do not exist in isolation and that our relationships with others are fundamental to our understanding of self. This leads on to SLN’s second key question Who are we?, which occurs naturally. This question becomes more explicit when we consider the different groups or communities we belong to, and explore how these define and impact on our identity; for example family, friends, faith, gang and school. Humans are social beings and have a need to belong, leading us to ask – can we belong to different groups and in different ways?

SLN’s third key question Where do we live? is important when we consider where we come from, where we feel we belong, where we feel safe and where we like to go. These are all important factors when we consider how we define ourselves and how we understand our geographical identity. If we relocate, what happens to our sense of identity in relation to place? Can we belong in more than one place? Throughout recorded history conflicts have started and geographical boundaries have changed over identity or territory. These are powerful human drivers and learning more about them is arguably one of the most important things we can do.

Investigation of our relationship to our physical space is important in itself, but it also leads to dialogue around SLN’s fourth key question How do we all live together? We want to build an understanding of how to create and contribute to a community and global world which benefits from the richness of its diversity. Our work on identity is central and continuous. SLN aims to make sure that the work is developmental and that it relates to other areas of learning. So, whatever we learn under the heading of any other subject – be it history, geography, art or mathematics – this learning supports our growing understanding of ourselves and our relationships to each other and the world.

For classroom resources on each of these questions follow these links:
Who am I?
Who are we?
Where do we live?
How do we all live together?