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.