Knowing the Difference Life Skill #2
Simone Weil “The most important part of teaching is to teach what it is to know.”
What is factual and what is opinion?
We have fun with this one in our Native Youth group. We begin by describing something that has happened and try to tell the difference between what we actually see and hear and how what we see and hear is influenced by our opinions.
It is a major learning.
“So what happened last night,” I ask.
One of the youth recounts the events: “A bunch of guys saw us walking down the street. They were looking for a fight and when they saw us they started staring us down. We didn’t back down even though we didn’t want to fight. They all looked like they could take us down. One of our guys says ‘What up?’ They all say ‘What up?” back to us and nothing happened. We all walk away very happy.”
“Okay,” I say. “What was factual and what was your opinion? Remember factual means only what you hear and see. Opinion means your interpretation of what you see and hear.”
They get most of it. They didn’t want to give up their certainty that they knew the other guys were spoiling for a fight or that their stares were hostile.
I tried another way. “Well, what did you see on their faces that led you to interpret it as hostile?”
“Their mouth was turned down in a frown and they squinted their eyes,” says one youth.
So we go into the next phase of the skill.
“What is another interpretation of what you saw when they came toward you or when they stared? “ I ask.
“Maybe they had just been dissed themselves and it showed on their face,” offers one youth.
“Maybe they are nearsighted and needed to stare closely to tell who we were?” says another.
We all laugh at that.
“So, what is the skill you learn from this?” I ask.
After some discussion on how easy it is to confuse what we actually see and hear and our interpretations of it, a young Native adult comments. “I think if we respect other people we can’t make snap judgments on what they are thinking. We don’t know and too often we let our own negative energy interpret for us.”
Since I have learned to do photography I do pay more attention to people’s expression but I still jump to conclusions. This is such a vital skill—to ask what is going on for the other person rather than assuming we know their mind.