Title: Personality and Posts331

Key Words: personality type, temperament sorter, cultural mosaics, diplomats, U.S. Department of State; U.S. Foreign Service; U.S. Foreign Service Institute.

National Standard: 10
The characteristics, distribution, and complexity of Earth's cultural mosaics.

State Standard: 13
Students will demonstrate an understanding of the impact of human systems on Earth's surface including the characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations; the nature and complexity of patterns of cultural diffusion; patterns and networks of economic interdependence; processes, patterns, and functions of human settlement; and the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape human geographic divisions.

Teaching Level: H

Lesson Introduction: Every diplomat-in-training in the U.S. Foreign Service Institute takes the Myers-Briggs Personality Test. Department of State officials feel that it is essential for foreign service officers to understand their own personalities in order to appreciate better their responses to cultural norms overseas.

If a person is inclined to run his/her own life by a strict schedule, and the people in the nation to which that person is assigned consider schedules unimportant, difficulties can result. Understanding those differences can help the foreign service officer prepare for his/her post.

As students begin a year studying foreign cultures, it is important for them to see that in some instances, cultural norms resemble personality traits. For us to get along, those traits, as well as our own response to them, must be understood.

The following lesson plan, to be used at the beginning of a cultural geography course, can help to personalize this complex issue and can assist the student in understanding cultural mosaics on a global level. It may also be used in a psychology class with the same objectives in mind.

Objectives/Purpose: l. To analyze each student's personality type; to determine the potential for personal and cultural diversity; to analyze personal perspectives on cultural norms.

Materials: One copy of Please Understand Me. by David Kiersey and Marilyn Bates,Del Mar, CA.: Prometheus Nemesis Book Co.,1978.

Procedure: l. Tell students about the requirements for the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. Discuss the reasons for those requirements.

2. Tell students that today they will be describing an imaginary personality.

3. Have students brainstorm a list of personality traits. Settle on a list of traits that would be compatible, since only one person is being described.

4. Ask students to come up with general categories describing their imaginary person. Discuss.

5. Compare their categories with those outlined in David Kiersey's Please Understand Me. [The Kiersey Temperament Sorter is similar to, but simpler than, the Myers-Briggs Personality Test]. Go over the categories to ensure student understanding.

6. Read sample questions from the Kiersey Temperament Sorter. Have students determine what quality the question is designed to analyze.

7. Working in groups of four, with one leader, one recorder, and two question writers, students will come up with a test which they think will reveal personality. At least fifty questions must be included, designed to reveal the personality traits summarized in the four major categories.

8. Allow time for this exercise. Then meet as a whole group to compile a common list of questions for the test. The questions should be listed in categories, in order that a scoring sheet similar to Kiersey's may be designed. Questions should then be placed at random through the testing instrument.

9. On the second day, students should take the test and analyze the results.

10. In order that the students' privacy be respected, they should each write their four-letter personality type on a scrap of paper and hand it in to the teacher. The teacher should then list and tabulate the different personality types on the board.

11. Note the number of different personality types in this classroom alone. Discuss the fact that world-wide, there are not only different personality types, but also many different cultural norms. The possibilities for personal and cultural diversity are amazing.

12. Tell students that throughout the course, they might try to analyze the culture of each study center with their own personalities in mind.

As foreign service officers, what understanding would they need to have of the other culture and of themselves in order to be effective negotiators and to win recognition for official U.S. government policies overseas?

Evaluation/Assessment: Student contributions to the imaginary personality; student questions for the personality test, compiled in groups; student analysis of their own personality traits, as well as the general categories; student recognition of how their own perspectives might impact on their analysis of another culture.

Extension/Enrichment: Students might survey others in their school to compile a school-wide profile. They should, of course, take steps to ensure the privacy of other participants. They might also devise a questionnaire eliciting responses to norms in foreign cultures and correlate the two: Do people of the same personality type respond in a similar way to foreign cultures?

Additional Standards: National standard 4 (physical and human characteristics); standard 6 (perceptions of places and regions); standard 13 (cooperation and conflict); standard 18 (interpret the present and plan for the future); state standard 11 (physical/human geographic features and regions); standard 15 (interpret the past and present and plan for the future).

Reflection: How successful was this lesson? Did all students benefit? Were there any surprises? What might you do differently another time? Please note any changes that will make this lesson more effective and useful in the future and pass them along to the NHGA. We appreciate your comments.

Thank you,

The authors.


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