Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

An education in Religion and Worldviews
An education in Religion and Worldviews

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2.1 Identity tree activity

An image of a large tree.

You’ll now use an activity called the ‘identity tree’ to explore how Religion and Worldviews could be an important anchor for critically understanding why these subjects need to continue to be discussed in a facilitated way in schools. This activity was developed by the Faith and Belief Forum to explore how religious and non-religious beliefs and practices continue to shape our identities today (Faith and Belief Forum, 2022).

Get out a piece of scrap paper or print out this worksheet [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] (open the link in a new window or tab so you can easily return to the course) and start with labelling the leaves of the tree.

Here are some questions to get you started – but you may want to use the leaves to label other important parts of who you are that are not mentioned.

  • Which people are important to me?
  • What are the places that are important to me?
  • Which beliefs, values, ideas are important to me? 
  • What is my personality like? 
  • What do I do well and enjoy doing?
  • What am I studying? 
  • What job do I want to do? 
  • What gender do I identify as? 
  • What is my sexuality? 
  • What groups do I belong to? 
  • What are my hopes for the future? 
An image of a tree and its roots.

Now consider where all these leaves originated – what are the roots of your identity? You can use the prompts below to label the roots which support your tree:

  • My religion, beliefs, values come from…
  • My personality comes from…
  • My hobbies come from…
  • My strength and skills come from…
  • My appearance comes from…
  • My dreams about the future come from…

There will be some aspects of your identity that you have little choice about, these may be physical attributes like your ethnic and religious heritage, genetically determined attributes, as well as early experiences. Others may assume you have certain identities that you do not experience as part of ‘who you are’.

Now that you’ve sketched out your own personal ‘identity tree’ here are some questions to consider:

  • What has had the most influence shaping your identity?
  • Was there anything that surprised you?
  • Do you think your identity would be different if you:
    • a.Were born into a different country?
    • b.Were born into a different family?
    • c.Were born into a different culture?
    • d.Lived in a different city?
    • e.Went to a different school?
    • f.Had different friends?
  • Would you have labelled this tree’s leaves and/or roots differently if you did this activity at a different time in your life?

This activity illustrates how our identity is shaped by our history, culture, practices and life experiences. These influence and shape our ideas about right and wrong, how a person should behave and what beliefs and behaviour are unacceptable to us. This exploration does not need to erase the importance of religious identities, community and social context. Indeed understanding the origin and roots of our own values is an important starting point in engaging with groups and organisations who are coming from different perspectives.

So what might the Religion and Worldviews proposal look like in practice?