Several months ago my wife and I needed a new car. We did the research and looked at a wide range of cars. We eventually found a car that we hadn’t seen on the road before. It was a Ford Fusion. We love everything about the car and found a dealership that was nearby with a great deal. As soon as we took it home I noticed something. There are a lot of Ford Fusions out on the road. Not only that, but there are a lot of cars on the road that came from this dealership that I had never heard of until that day.
Perception is a funny thing. We tend to perceive what is important to us and what directly impacts our world. Our brains filter everything else out, it’s just background noise. What I thought was a unique car, was actually fairly common, but I didn’t perceive that until I needed to single it out from the noise.
It’s easy to fall into that trap in the classroom as well. There are times when students will bring things to my attention that I don’t realize are occurring. Sometimes they are pointing out that an assignment’s instructions are confusing or that they feel I’m treating the class unfairly when I give them a consequence. It’s uncomfortable. Nobody likes someone to call them out for something they perceive is wrong.
I don’t always agree with their assertions, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that they have this perception. I have two choices: either I can ignore it and hope they change their minds or I can take the time to look at the situation through their eyes and try to figure out why they feel the way they do. Change can’t happen unless I can truly understand all sides.
Ultimately, I may still disagree with them. But seeing the world through their eyes gives me the opportunity to present myself in a different manner while still attaining the same results. And sometimes I come to realize they were right all along.
The world would be a much better place if we could all take the time to perceive things through another’s eyes.