Nov. 28th, 2011
What the world needs now is another folk singer like I need a hole in my head. For some people, Cracker’s song lyrics are fighting words (but the tune is great…check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1n8rfFRvIH0). But what does the world need now? Certainly, we need to get better at appreciating alternative perspectives. Not just tolerating…but actually appreciating them. Appreciating alternative perspectives requires a consideration of different ways of looking at issues in the process of forming opinions and taking a position.
Some of the benefits of meaningfully examining alternative perspectives are that it:
- Contributes to developing open-mindedness
- Provides more options for solving problems
- Helps develop “intellectual empathy”
- Provides emotionally safer places for students to learn
- Addresses concerns of bias and indoctrination in the learning process
- Makes students more aware of their own values and biases
How do we teach this?
One strategy is to explicitly include diverse perspectives in some of your regular activities where ever possible. Examples of explicit perspectives to explore:
- Non-human animals
- Past, present, future perspectives
- Inanimate objects
- Non-human animals (council of all beings)
- Past, present, future perspectives
- Feminist perspective
- Islamic perspective
Of course, books are a powerful way to help your students get inside the life of someone different from themselves. Literature that helps students to explore and appreciate diverse perspectives includes:
- The True Story of the Three Little Pigs
- “The Vacuum Cleaner’s Revenge” by Patricia Hubbell from Dirty Laundry Pile: Poems in Different Voices
- I am the Dog/I am the Cat by Donald Hall
- Fly Away Home by Eve Bunting
- The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
- Happenstance by Carol Shields
- Yo! by Julia Alvarez
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive more suggestions of book titles that help students to appreciate diverse perspectives.
More Teaching Strategies for Examining Alternative Perspectives
Other strategies for helping students to meaningfully ‘try on’ or examine diverse perspectives are:
- Switching—have students consider a television show, movie, or novel that they have enjoyed recently. Then ask them to consider specific ways in which it would have been the same/different if:
- The main character was a different gender.
- The main character had a considerably different income than the one portrayed.
- The main character had a different sexual orientation than the one portrayed.
- Analyse examples of media coverage of a current news story from diverse media sources
- When debriefing a regular activity, approaching an assignment or discussing an article in class, assign particular roles to the group members. For example, the De Bono’s hats strategy includes the following roles:
- White: just the facts
- Yellow: explore positives/probe for benefits
- Black: judgment; devil’s advocate; spot the problems
- Red: feelings, hunches, intuition
- Green: creativity, alternatives, possibilities
- Blue: manage–keep everyone in their hats!
Want some help taking the next step? Email us. We would love to help.
To be sure to set everyone up for success, watch for our upcoming blog on Dealing with Sensitive Issues in the Classroom.
- Jack Layton Award Presentation
- Exceptional Teacher Across Canada Honoured by Grand & Toy
- 2012 Reponsible Citizenship Roundtables
- Annual ESD Symposium 2012
- Online Interactive Presentation by David Bell – Oct 5 12-1pm – The Challenges of Sustainability and the Role of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development)