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Shift in Perception
December 5, 2018
Poetry is emotion put into measure. The emotion must come by nature, but the measure can be acquired by art.
-Thomas Hardy

Alfie Kohn, in an article in Psychology Today recounts a teacher’s description about a profound shift in thinking about education:

“Awhile back, someone—I forget who—suggested to me that, since I was lucky enough to have relatively small classes, I should start the term by having each student take a few minutes to introduce him- or herself. Why not, I thought; it won't take that long. So I asked everyone to say a little something about their personal background and also mention an experience or two relevant to the topic of the course.

What I didn't expect is that this tiny change would end up making such a difference in my perception of what was happening in class. You know, I'm very serious about the subject matter I teach. But learning a bit about each student on the first day turned them into flesh-and-blood people for me, and I realized with an unpleasant little start that for all these years I'd been so focused on what I was teaching that I was ignoring the students who were learning it. I had forgotten that what matters isn't so much the knowledge itself as the uses particular people make of that knowledge. It's not the ideas that count; it's the experience of the individuals who consider those ideas.”

Source: “Transformation by Degrees,” by Alfie Kohn, Psychology Today, September 26, 2017

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