USA Now

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Chapter 4: Identity formation and socialization in the United States

Pre-reading

  • What do you think is the best age to be? Explain why.
  • Unscramble each of the clue words below. Copy the letters in the numbered cells to the cells at the bottom with the same number.

Comprehension

  • 1. How does the history of the United States contribute to shaping Americans’ identity?
  • 2. In what ways is the American nation decaying?
  • 3. Describe the American welfare model. How does it differ from the Danish model?
  • 4. Which role does the family play for Americans?
  • 5. Explain the education system in the United States.
  • 6. In the United States, teenagers’ spare time is a matter of concern. Why is that?

Post-reading

  • 1. Read Barack Obama’s A Letter to My Daughters (January 18, 2009). How does he describe the challenges facing the United States and its children?
  • 2. Discussion: Most countries give young people rights and responsibilities as they reach a certain age. For example, Danish people can be held responsible for crimes they have committed from when they are 15, they can legally purchase alcohol when they are 16, and they can drive a car when they are 18. In the United States, the age of criminal responsibility is established by state law; some states have set minimum ages, which range from six to 12; most states, however, rely on federal law which states that from age seven children can be held responsible. Americans can legally purchase alcohol when they are 21, and they can drive a car when they are 16.

    • Give reasons why the age limits in either country should or should not be changed.

  • 3. Project: Choose one of the topics listed below. Use the website www.screencast-o-matic.com to create a screen capture video of your topic by combining websites, articles, images etc. while narrating. Focus on the role your topic plays in young Americans’ identity formation.

    • - Family
    • - Religion
    • - School
    • - Social media
    • - Alcohol and/or drug use
    • - Teenage pregnancies
    • - Poverty
    • - Racial differences

  • 4. Discussion: Some people say that each generation acquires certain characteristics depending on the time period they grow up in. What do you think will be incorporated in today’s youth as they mature? Is it the same for Danes as for Americans?
  • 5. Work in groups with American high school stereotypes, for instance band geeks, cheerleaders, gangsters, hippies, jocks, nerds, skaters, whiz kids etc. Find information and pictures/video about your topic and prepare a presentation.
  • 6. Make a comic that illustrates the life on an American teenager. Draw by hand or use the website www.pixton.com.
  • 7. Write an essay on the importance of education.