SOL 29/15 Perception and Theme

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How we perceive the world around us matters. It matters in that it affects the view we have of ourselves, the view we have of others, and ultimately our happiness. It matters in that it affects our behavior and how we treat others. As I sat here thinking about my day I asked myself,  “What the heck am I going to write about tonight?” and I started surfing the internet. This video caught my eye. It’s short and gave me the insight I needed for this post.

We talk a lot about theme in my classroom, as I’m sure you all do in your classrooms. It’s kind of a big idea. And one universal theme my kids are very successful with is “not judging a book by its cover”. They are very proud when they find evidence in their reading to support this theme. Yet as I watch this clip I wonder how successful their transference of this idea into their everyday life is. And in all honesty I wonder how successful I am. I have a close friend and we discuss this, a lot.

Several years ago I went into a local music store to buy a CD for my then teenage son. As much as I hate to admit this, the gentleman working behind the counter kind of scared me. He was big. He wore all black. He had rings and piercings everywhere. In his nose, eye brows, lips. He had spikes all along his top lip. He had large plugs in both ears. He was covered with tattoos.

I nearly walked out of the store. But some strong self talk worked at overcoming such a ridiculous thought. Slowly I meandered through the CD’s but I couldn’t find the one my son wanted. I didn’t know what to do because I was afraid to ask him for help. I remember feeling really embarrassed for having that feeling. As if reading my mind, he came over to me to ask if I needed help. I hesitated and then asked him if he had the CD. He gently pointed me in the right direction then asked me about who I was buying the CD for. He knew my son because he went in that store often to buy his music. He showed me other CD’s my son had looked at before. He asked how my classroom was that year. He knew I taught! He was so nice to me. I was so ashamed for how I prejudged him. He was a really nice person. I also have to admit that as waited for my receipt to print out I found myself wondering who hurt him so much. Why I made that leap based on his appearance I’m not totally sure.But I wondered why he would put all those spiky spikes all along his mouth making intimate kissing close to impossible. I hoped I was just very naive as to the nuances of spikes for fashion statements.

I saw that gentleman many times after that day each time I went in to buy CD’s. And what amazed me was how quickly I didn’t even notice the very things that scared me at first.

This brings me back to the idea of theme. How well do we absorb the themes we work so hard to help our kids uncover and provide evidence for? Do we ourselves integrate those messages or do we talk the talk without walking the walk? I often think of that day in that CD store. I think of it when the kids and I uncover universal messages in our themes. I think of it when I reflect on how I perceive the world around me. I do that because I care about how I treat others. And if I reflect on that, how I treat others, I must begin with thinking about how I perceive the world and the people who are in it. If I am able to do that honestly, I am usually able to improve the things I say and do. This reflection on perception usually points me in the right direction. The direction of  improving what I think, say, and do. And that is the power behind awareness in our perceptions and in guiding our kids to uncover such strong universal themes.




15 thoughts on “SOL 29/15 Perception and Theme

  1. i think it’s great that you reflected on the situation in an effort to make personal improvements. Your post reminds me of the importance of sharing books with our students that elevate the conversation and help them to see things from different perspectives and promote empathy.

    • Thank you. It’s hard to admit when we make judgements of people before we even get to know them as individuals. Shouldn’t even judge them then! I do think that by our reflecting honestly with ourselves, we help our children do the same.

  2. This is so powerful.m That video is a reminder how we can prejudge. I liked how you wove your own experience. And you raised an important question: do kids transfer and integrate the theme we discuss everyday? Thank you for sharing.

    • You are welcome! Thanks. I hesitated on inserting that experience for fear of offending. But then I felt dishonest if I didn’t. Since this is still such a problem in our country and around the world I fell we need to be honest when we see it in ourselves. If we don’t feel that we are able to share such honest emotions, how are we ever going to uproot them?

    • Thanks Tara. It reminds me every time I’m confronted with it. Silly that at this stage of the game we still struggle with this. But I do believe all humans are confronted with this on some level. The goal is to openly acknowledge, discuss, and address it.

  3. I had a similar experience on a flight recently. Sat next to a big, burly, tattooed, biker-guy on the plane. I wasn’t afraid but didn’t look past the front appearance until we had landed. Heard him on the phone talking in this sweet voice to someone he obviously loved. God is good for the reminders that underneath the exterior is a human soul with more similarities than differences. Great post! D 🙂

    • It’s amazing that our age doesn’t really matter when it comes to this lesson. After such experiences I find myself wondering when will I get it!? Thanks for sharing.

  4. I think some of our themes are universal because at some point we all struggle with the issue. Most of us become more tolerant and understanding because of that struggle. I think we judge out of fear. When we get to know that person we let go of our fear and we become richer for knowing and learning from this person.

    You captured this struggle and your growth so beautifully. Thank you for this wonderful slice.

    • I agree. And you sum it up so beautifully. “…because at some point we all struggle with the issue.” As we start our Theme unit this week I will be sure to reflect further on this post and the comments it gets as I guide my kids on their perceptions and reflections. Thank you. PS – I love your blog.

  5. Jumping to conclusions is something that I struggle with, too. It is important, though, to be willing to re-evaluate your first impression when necessary. Some people are not willing to do this and will not change their opinion even though they really need to do so. Taking time to really get to know a person is important. I can only imagine how many important people in my life now I would not really know if I had not been willing to dig a little deeper and really get to know that person. Love this slice because it is so honest.

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