Monday, February 24, 2014

Point of View - in the Classroom and in Life

This week in reading class we have been discussing point of view. We began the short unit with one of my favorite books – Voices In the Park. More than any other year, my students were fascinated by this book. All three classes remarked how the “story” changed once you saw other sides, or other’s point of view.

As we talked about this, and flipped back and forth between the voices to compare, I couldn’t help but weave a character lesson in. I talked about how in my many years in the classroom kids have come to me frustrated – trying to figure out why “Nick” is angry with them. Typically I break down the scenario with them and we eventually realize that why they might not have done anything wrong, something they did offended the other child and we need to acknowledge that. Often a child will say, “I didn’t think I did anything, but I hadn’t seen it from his point of view.” Exactly.

Kids get it. While they might not always agree, they are receptive and willing to discuss, to see something from another’s perspective. Adults aren’t so easy.

My heart has hurt as I have skimmed Facebook of late. People post in anger. Tempers flare, names are called, the willingness to punch someone – while in jest, I hope, is posted. For someone who tends to believe that people are inherently good, this has been tough for me.

What once were frustrations you might tell your partner over a drink at the end of the night, on the phone to your best friend, is printed for the world to see. I’ve seen comments about myself, my school, teachers, friends, kids – kids, that are simply untrue. And while I could jump in, make my voice heard, I don’t.

A wise friend said to me the other day that we don’t win in life being the “right fighter”, we just get beaten down. Fighting to make everyone see our point of view, to see what is “true” is not going to make me happy in the end. So, I let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, but I work each day to start fresh, to start with a positive attitude. Some days are easier than others. What makes it worthwhile is these kids. And so today we talked about point of view. They marveled at Charles and Smudge. At Charles’s mom – why was she so angry? They studied Anthony Browne’s illustrations with wonder – why did he change the lamp to a flower? What’s up with the burning tree? And we talked point of view. How hearing all sides of the story changes everything. I realized that I can’t change others, that I don’t want to try to be the “right fighter”, but with these kids I have already won. While the adults might not use social media in a positive way, I am watching this group do so much good. I think I need to focus on them. From that perspective, it’s easy to feel good.