Some years you have classes where you throw out a discussion question and then listen to the crickets chirp in response. Not this year! I have a group who not only participates but they delve right into the heart of the matter. They aren’t afraid to share personal opinions but they also show the ability to empathize with the thoughts of others.
I threw out the topic of “perspectives” this week (in addition to the ideas of “point of view” and “worldview”). Understanding that point of view is your own personal opinion and perspectives are shared opinions among a group of people is not an easy thing to grasp.
To help my class this year I have turned to the website www.procon.org. This website examines the top 40+ controversial topics today. It ranges on everything from gay marriage to milk. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Milk is controversial? Who knew?
Too often we get personally involved with an issue. We are quick to jump in with our own personal opinion and highlight it with stories from our own experience or what we know of the experience of others. Very rarely do we step back in order to think who else might weigh in on an issue and how it could be seen from another perspective.
So here’s my lesson.
I asked my Grade 8 students to pick a topic from the list. Absolutely anything of interest to them. Then they were asked only two questions to start off.
1) What is that actual issue? (Why the heck is milk so controversial anyways?)
2) What groups of people might share a perspective on this?
That’s it…..forget about yourself and your opinion. Simply list the possible groups of people who may want to weigh in on this issue.
It was only after we practiced coming up with these lists that I moved on today to the third questions which was:
3) What would each group’s perspective be on this issue.
At no time have I asked them to highlight their own opinion on the matter. All I wanted was for them to think about what the opinions of others could be and WHY they might have that opinion.
I’m hoping it leads to a discussion on being open-minded. I’m hoping it leads to a practice of BEING open-minded.