Thinking

Thank you, Betsy Hubbard, for these words in your post announcing this week’s Slice of Life: “There is always something in our mind or on our heart that we can write about.”  This slice is just that: What’s in my mind and heart this day.

When I stop to think about it, the best example of personal growth I’ve seen since committing to writing on a regular basis is my ability to recognize the stories that go on around me all the time.  They’re everywhere, which, I suppose, is the whole idea behind the “Slice of Life” story challenge.  We live it–now we need to write about it and share our stories.

This week has been no exception.  I’ve experienced big stories that practically write themselves: Exploring wood firing kilns with my artist friend, taking my granddaughters (a wealth of stories, they are) to see the dinosaur exhibit at the local botanical garden, and surviving as a bachelor with my wife out of town are all worthy of writing about.  I’ve experienced countless small stories: Helping a friend through a minor crisis, purchasing a trailer through Facebook messenger, and any number of student stories all come to mind.  Okay, buying the trailer sight unseen might be a big story.

None of those, though, are resonating with me this week.  I wish they were…really, I do.  My mind, it seems, is spinning and I can’t get it to slow down (now that I think about it, wrapping up a school year might have something to do with this…).

As I go on, this isn’t a political post, though it has been inspired through the events of the last week.  Please don’t read too deeply, looking for a position on my part.  This isn’t the place for me to share that sort of thing.

I remember when I was a young junior in college.  Young, as in my late thirties (teaching is a second career).  I was floored by being introduced to the concept of critical thinking and critical literacy.  The ideas weren’t new, and I believed I’d always tried to practice both of them (don’t we all?); what was amazing to me is that they were actually things–things that some people did, things that some people didn’t do, and things that needed to be taught.  Objectivity, people, objectivity.

In the nearly 15 years since I’ve had this awareness, I’m regularly blown away by just how difficult it is for most people I encounter (me included, I’m sure) to think and consume information critically.  It’s hard to be objective; it’s hard to see the other side of any story; it’s hard to be empathetic when an opposing view is in your face.

Read the news lately?

Like many teachers, questions are a huge part of my life.  My two favorites, I tell my students, are “Why?”  and “So what?”  I regularly marry those questions with words that gain more and more importance as I continue to grow older.  Attributed to Mary Lou Kownacki and brought to me by Fred (Mr.) Rogers, they are, “There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story.”

As much as possible, I let those questions and words shape how I see the world around me, how I think and consume information critically.  They help me to stop and understand “the other side.”

May we stop.  May we think.  May we love.  Let it start anew with me.

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Note: Since posting this, I had someone ask me what I was talking about when I mentioned the Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Here’s a link so you can check it out: https://twowritingteachers.org/challenges/

13 thoughts on “Thinking”

  1. Yes, they are everywhere, and as you wrote in a small aside, the stories in the news seem to be taking over. My go to question to students too was “so what?” but also “tell me more”. Nothing better than raising thinkers! And I love the part about the new trailer, hoping that will be a longer story sometime.

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  2. I used to write my thoughts out….you are inspiring me to start again. Kindness, love and trying to see this world from all sides, are what I am striving for lately.

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    1. I’d love to see and hear what you’ve got to say! This world is a topsy turvy place that needs more reflection and less reaction in addition to kindness and love.

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  3. It sounds like we are in the same place. So much spinning around in our heads ~ I am grateful for my daily writing as it causes me to pause and put my consciousness towards only one thing, if only the candle flickering or the bird outside my window. It’s impossible to get it all down – what’s in my head – all consuming – so I write about the bird.

    Seeing perspectives is so darn hard for so many – not just our students, but adults, too. My own question that trickles off the tongue so many times a day is, “What makes you think/say that?” I think once something is said, a person believes it until challenged to come up with why they think what they do. I ask my own self this question on paper almost every day to get behind what I think and feel. But, as way-showers, (like we are), we much also nudge those around us to do the same.

    Love to read your writing, Tim. It’s very real. 🙂

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  4. Shari, it has made my day to see your comments! (I’m choosing not to believe, though, that it’s all downhill from here…)

    The end of the school year is always a hectic time, but this year seems to be different because of all the things going on around me/us. Spinning, spinning, spinning.

    I love your “What makes you think/say that?” question. I know I have a whole bag full of preconceived notions, but I hope that my awareness will help me keep the bag tied closed. I want to look around and think, to try to see different perspectives. As a “way-shower” (love the phrase!) I do want to encourage the people around me to do the same. I’m not necessarily trying to change minds…just open them.

    I hope to see more on the Islands soon…your writing was a big inspiration for my own public endeavors. 🙂

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