Please find below some essential information about one strand of Approaches To Learning skills explored in our classrooms.
SKILL CATEGORY: Thinking Skills
SKILL CLUSTER: Critical Thinking
STRAND: Inquire in different contexts to gain a different perspective
Why is it important to consider multiple perspectives?
On an afternoon, after classes had just ended, I came across a group of students who were engaged in a hearty conversation about something I was too far away to make out, but could tell from the distance it was a topic all members found a mutual interest in. I watched on in admiration as the students lost themselves in the powwow, and for a moment, forgot about their deadlines and stress, and found a renewed strength to engage in something that relieved them of what some described as ‘academic nightmares’. It reminded me of my Friday afternoons as a high school student when all I yearned for was the sound of the bell so I could escape the boredom and disinterestedness that usually characterized especially the last period. Making her way from a distance towards the group was another student who had just ended a one-on-one session with a teacher, and seemed eager and in a hurry to join in the chat. Once she was close enough to be noticed by the others (except one), an unusual silence fell on the group as most members went tight-lipped and immediately put on an emotionless facial expression. Only that one person who had no idea of the newcomer still put in the effort to drive the conversation, but was totally ignored by the rest. After trying and failing to rekindle the enthusiasm that had hitherto characterized everyone’s involvement, and upon finally realizing the identity and presence of the newest member, she picked up her bag and proceeded to the hostel, defeated and embarrassed. While I watched the group pick up the pace in a rejuvenated chatter with this new comer (whom I will soon learn has a ‘beef’ with the other person), two questions raised in my mind; Must we necessarily inherit other people’s enemies as proof of loyalty? – I will leave this question for another day. The second question which is the reason for this discussion is; should one perspective be enough to draw a conclusion?
As I found out later, the rest of the group only based their treatment of the old member on a narrative as presented by the newcomer; a narrative that was presented in the absence of the former and thus with a 99% potential of being skewed and biased, and unlikely to offer an objective or fair account of whatever incident that had occurred between the two parties. The answer to the question then is a simple ‘NO’. One person’s perspective is definitely not enough to draw a conclusion, especially in a case where the aftermath of that conclusion is to be borne by inter-personal relationships. Unfortunately, however, the easiest and perhaps laziest attitude as humans is that we act on that one narrative without making the effort to consider other possibilities. Most us have lost friendships and relationships, and in the process, made enemies because we were too lazy to take the step towards listening to the other person or people; because we were too quick to conclude and act on that one side of story which was not a representation of the bigger picture. So we saw a hand when we could have seen a whole body, and we zoomed in on a room when we could have seen the full architecture of the house. Will it have made a difference if the group had heard the narrative from both parties? Maybe yes, maybe not. But the ability and desire to seek a full complement of the situation is what distinguishes an intelligent consumer of information from an ordinary one. Making enemies is perhaps one of the easiest thing to do. But lose a friendship because you considered all the possibilities available and it was the best option to choose – at least it will be easier to accept responsibility for the outcome in such case – and not because you shut your eyes and closed your ears to the seemingly obvious and varying perspectives and possibilities around you.
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