Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Power of Perception

Watch this.  Then keep reading.

I watched this this morning.

And I wondered.

Do I do this?  In my classroom.  Do I?

I try really hard not to.  I like to think that I am open minded, that I have high expectations for every kid, regardless of what I know about them.  That I don't let my perspective paint a picture of their life before they've even picked up the brush.

But if these professional photographers can be duped, can't we?

Have you ever been surprised when the student who constantly acts up turns in writing that takes your breath away?  When you catch the girl dressed in head-to-toe pink reading Captain Underpants? When the shyest kid in the class offers an insight most adults miss?  When the kid with dirty fingernails and too short pants shoots to the top of the math class?

Let's face it.  We all make snap judgments about people based on what we know or see.  That's a part of being human, and to be honest, it's likely kept our species alive, this ability to quickly identify and evade a potential threat.  But in a post-fight-or-fight society, this skill can hurt us far more than it helps.  Because it can keep our most precious resource - our kids - pigeonholed before we ever know what they can truly do.  Before THEY can know what they can truly do.

And so they don't believe.  Because they know that we don't.

So my challenge is this.  Let's remember this video, and remember that every student who steps through our doors holds a universe of possibility within them.  No matter where they live, what choices their parents have made, the color of their skin or the thickness of their cumulative file, every student can achieve greatness.

Don't believe everything you see.

Just believe.

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