Shifting Viewpoints in the Classroom | Part 3

This is Part 3 of a 4-part series about teaching children to understand and manage their attention.

PART 1  |  PART 2 |  PART 3  |  PART 4

Scenario: You are in a children's classroom. You are their teacher. 

You have just learned that your students' attention is on a recent destructive fire in their neighborhood. 

You say, "Fire. Let's play with our attention and the fire."  (You write FIRE on the board in the center of a circle). You ask the kids to give examples of a feeling or idea that they have about the fire. They offer ideas like:

  • "It was scary and I felt doomed."
  • "I was angry."
  • "My family totally freaked out.."
  • "I cried and felt angry."
  • "I thought it was exciting."
  • "I got sick and threw up."

As an idea is expressed, you write each different viewpoint around the circle with a line going to each idea. It looks like a sun with ideas at each point about what is in the center. 

The children are noticing how many people have very different ideas and experiences. 

You ask, "Which idea is true, which idea is right or which idea is wrong?" They look around at each other, unsure. 

One child says, "They all are true." You pause and let that soak in.

"Very interesting" you comment. "So it is true that the fire was exciting, scary, and that people felt all those different ways?" A child answers, "I was not excited and I don't think it was exciting at all. I think it was horrible."

You then ask each student to take a moment and look to see which viewpoint is true for them. You ask them which viewpoint most of their attention is on. You ask again for the room to share which viewpoint they have decided on. It becomes very clear that the viewpoint being held by the students are all different. 

The viewpoint with the most attention flowing to it is the one they consider most real. 

They are amazed and experientially become aware that other students have their attention on different ideas and are experiencing the event in unique ways. You repeat the earlier question, "Where does your attention come from?" In unison they say "Me!" 

You continue, "Who directs your attention?  Who decides where it goes? In unison and in excitement they say, "Me!" You nudge them a bit more, "What makes things more and more real in your life, like the bottle of lemonade got more and more real?" With clarity they announce, "Our attention!"  

Next you invite them to deliberately choose a viewpoint that they would like to make more real about the fire. After giving them a moment to feel their options, you ask, "Who has decided on a viewpoint they would like to make more real?"

Find out what viewpoint they pick... in Part 4 coming soon. 

Adding self-awareness to every viewpoint,


Posted by Holly Riley.