Sociology students break society norms for class project

Yonas Kahase, Staff Writer

Have you ever wondered why most high school students at Greeley West all act the same?  They wear the same types of clothes, listen to the same types of music, and play the same types of games on their phones.

Students in Ms. Lea Sanford’s Sociology class are diving into the causes during their current unit on cultural norms and the people who break them.  To add to the learning Sanford has assigned the class a project where students will break a norm and answer some reflection questions about it afterward.

In addition, students may earn extra credit if they provide video proof of the norm they are breaking.  “I want students to experience how much society forces its members to conform. By breaking a social norm and really paying attention to people’s reactions, hopefully students start to understand the power of conformity,” Sanford said.

Students have to decide what kind of norms they can break without breaking a law.  Sanford has found that it I hard for a lot of her junior and seniors to break the norms because they are so used to following along with the crowd.  Her hope is that by challenging them out of their comfort zone, they will learn more about how society is based upon conformity.

“I want them to learn that society cares a lot about its norms – that there are some norms that aren’t as sacred to us, but others that people will go to great lengths to make sure people obey,” Sanford said.  “Plus, getting out of your comfort zone is a good thing!”

The project was due on Tuesday, November 5, and featured interesting norm breaking.  Kids wrote about breaking personal spaces of others, and playing soccer without cleats.  Another interesting project involved students playing music too loud and interfering with other people’s silence.

“I thought it was hard to break the norm because it was weird and you got weird looks,” senior Sabrina Casiano Gonzalez said.  “The norm I broke was about cutting people in line. A lot of people reacted differently.  They gave me dirty looks and acted weird about it.   I think it was hard to break the norm because you had to go against society and its norms.”