Introduction to Sociology
The nature versus nurture debate also ties in with socialisation as it is through the process of socialisation that we learn the norms and values of society.
The nature versus nurture debate is at the core of most introductory units in Sociology. This starter activity
Discover More Nature v Nurture
uses different behaviours to illustrate the debate and asks students to decide whether they think the behaviour is a result of nature or nurture. The PowerPoint suggests using mini-whiteboards but if you don’t have these you could substitute it with having students move to one side of the classroom or the other, depending on their views.
If you have any students also studying Biology and/or Chemistry alongside Sociology, they might find the Nuffield Foundations resources helpful:
Discover More Activities Nature v Nurture
The dyslexia task is one that could be used in lesson as it is likely that students are already familiar with the condition and can use their current understanding as the basis for looking at dyslexia as a product of both the environment and genes. It also considers dyslexia in the context of other languages such as Chinese and Japanese which provides a neat link back to Japanese culture studied earlier.
Another topic within which the nature versus nurture debate can be contextualised is athletics. This 5 minute BBC clip (shown during the 2012 London
Olympic Games) asks why so many black athletes are world champions? It refers back to the Berlin games of 1936 and Hitler’s intent to create a
‘superior Aryan race’ – somewhat undermined by Jesse Owens, quadruple gold winner.
This Guardian article focuses on the nature side of the debate and is useful as an early comprehension exercise for students
Discover More Robert Plomin Polygenic Testing
The article looks at the role of biology in determining our personality and links to Charles Murray, racism and education. With these ideas in mind, it’s a useful introduction into thinking synoptically with your class. As a consolidation exercise, students could create a summary of the news article in their own words.
Film and literature can be well-placed to illustrate key sociological ideas, an example being Willy Russell’s Blood Brothers which students may have studied as part of their GCSE English curriculum. If not, clips of significant scenes and clips can be found here for use in the lesson:
Discover More Making a Scene Blood Brothers Plot
Students could then work in groups using this resource
Discover More Blood Brothers Nature Nurture Social Class
to discuss the statements presented in the slides. The later slides ask specifically about the characters in Blood Brothers and students can refer to the first link to remind themselves about key features of the play.
This resource contains a range of activities, including ‘Spit/Saliva and Socialisation’. This task examines how spit/saliva can be understood as a social construct. You absolutely do not need to do the first part of the lesson – students will know what spit is without the need for some on a spoon! The lesson starts with students considering why saliva can be considered valuable (there are a range of suggestions contained in the resource). From this point, a range of discussion/questions are asked about saliva and social rules, before looking at a short video on the introduction of a ‘spitting Czar’ introduced by the Chinese government before the 2008 Olympics
Discover More Social Relationships: Self, Groups, and Socialization
This task explores socialisation by looking at some of the ways gender is learned and reinforced by material culture.
Discover More Gender Socialization Lab/Fieldtrip
Using internet photographs or ‘actual’ items, e.g. newspapers, children’s books and clothes, students are asked how the objects reinforce traditional gender roles and stereotypes.
Discussion points include; What kind of gender socialising messages would a person in contact with these items get? Are gender stereotypes reinforced with these materials? Where would you go if you wanted to get away from gender socialising messages?