During this time of year and our political climate, many critics and journalists like to construct mock resolutions for our nation’s leaders. However, the problem with reading these articles lies in the inherent biases of the critic’s perspective. Yet, this does serve as an excellent opportunity to discuss audience and persona in writing.
Consider asking students to research various political figures. This, of course, can easily be modified based on the knowledge-base of your students. Another alternative is to provide them with profiles from the New York Times, a relatively factual and brief description of each candidate. Assign each student one Republican presidential candidate to study. Then ask them to assume the identity and construct a New Year’s resolution for the politician from that perspective. To do this, students will need to consider what is most important to the politician and how to select words that accurately reflect these beliefs. Or, if looking for more of a challenge, ask students to consider the counter argument by constructing a New Year’s resolution for a rival candidate or President Obama from the perspective of their assigned politician. It would be intriguing to see the students consider what Newt Gingrich would select as a New Year’s resolution for Mitt Romney and vice versa.
Ask the students to defend their selection by providing a rationale for their selection and construction. An activity like this raises awareness about the persona of a writer while still asking them to develop their own argument.