If you could spend 15 minutes with anyone, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
When telling a story, do you tell it differently based on the audience? (e.g., amount of details provided, references to things they do/don’t know about, etc.).
Both of the questions above are very different, yet have one thing the same, one asks who would spend your time with and the other asks how you would tell a story. The one thing they have in common is they help to give you perspective.
Taking the higher ground and looking at life, situations, experiences and goals from different perspectives is one of your greatest teaching tools. You may not even know it, but being able to see things from your students, parents or colleagues perspectives is one of the most important skills in your role. It may even be one of your strengths.
One company that emphatically exhibits perspective is Apple Inc. and you don’t have to be Steve Jobs to understand that the way Apple do things is a different, their underlying success could just be because they understand that really we are all the same.
Watch this 2:34 min video from the tech masters and reflect on the messages conveyed from your point of view. This could even be a great starter activity for your class today.
There a two distinct themes in this beautiful short clip created by the worlds creative geniuses, Apple Inc. You may have heard of them, they’re kind of a big deal… they play a huge part in all of our lives whether we like it or not.
Apple are even creating a new Apple car that will be like driving around inside your phone, we don’t know if we should laugh or cry at the idea of being transported around by one big distraction, is this going to be such a good idea? but hey, somehow Apple just keep on being different and that’s why they have been so successful.
Steve Jobs himself was different and thanks to his “think outside the box” approach to life and business he has created an age of technological advancement that we may full realise the power and advantage this has given us, we may never see the extent of this growth again.
Apple have many eccentric approaches to most things in life, but this video in particular resonated with us in regards to the power of perspective and how the way we “see” things is a gateway to greatness.
Perspective can be defined in two ways:
"the art of representing three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface so as to give the right impression of their height, width, depth, and position in relation to each other".
Here we refer to art forms and and the construction of objects in relation to one another, see the video for the countless ways they have changed the perspective of the letters to create words.
Alternatively, it can be defined as “a particular attitude towards or way of regarding something; a point of view”.
What Apple have cleverly done is created a video that encompasses both definitions to create meaning and challenge the viewer to question how perspective is so universally unique. Or is it?
When watching the video there are many great cues to challenge the way you perceive the world around you.
We have broken the video up into the most powerful phrases we believe can significantly challenge your perspective by reflecting to help you see the world through a different lens. Read each phrase and consider how it applies to you and your life as a teacher. We have created some reflective questions for each to challenge you to reconsider your perspective. Use the questions for discussion with your class to create more perspectives.
Here’s to the ones who see things differently. The ones who follow a vision, rather than a path. When others perceive first as valuable, you value the first thing that actually matters.
Can you put yourself in your students shoes and see things from their point of view?
Are your goals and dreams written down?
Are you able to say no, even when it makes you unpopular?
Do you have a personal mission statement?
What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? Do you have a plan to get there?
While others are distracted by the new, you focus on the significance of a whole new take.
What are you spending your money on?
Are you satisfied with your work?
Do you meditate daily for at least 5 minutes?
When was the last time you took some time to be alone?
How much time are you spending on social media?
Even before you could see how, you never doubted we would change things. And then we did. Together. Again and again and again.
If you could only speak one word today, what would you say?
Did you say “I love you” to the most important person in your life today?
Are you a good listener?
When someone sees your name on caller ID, what thoughts and feelings do you want them to have?
Relentless optimism, is what moves the world forward.
Did you pause to celebrate the last time you accomplished a goal, big or small?
Do you consider yourself worthy of love and admiration?
What story are you telling yourself about your life?
How do you deal with failure?
Are you holding on to any past mistakes?
What habits are holding you back from success?
So keep seeing things differently. Keep trusting there is always another way, a better way, a bigger way. One that lifts up humanity. Breaks down our barriers. And heals the landscape.
How do you express your gratitude for good things and people you have in your life?
How do you react when you encounter a homeless person?
You are the difference between the world as it was and the better place it will become.
If you had unlimited resources, how would you live your life?
What step can you take today in order to fulfill your deepest desire?
How have you educated yourself today?
What did failure to reach your goal teach you about yourself?
Different is the one thing about us that will always be the same.
Perspective taking doesn’t mean you give up your own perspective or lack conviction. In fact, this is one of the critical differences between perspective taking and empathy. Empathy may go too far in some situations. A member of the special forces who empathises with the enemy or a teacher who is distraught about a parent’s complaints may fail to fulfill the mission of their respective organisations. But there is no way to succeed without some understanding of the “other side’s” perspective.
Perspective taking is best developed in relationships. Many people change or at least reevaluate their dogmatic views about sexual orientation, religion, or politics when a friend or loved one is the one who represents the opposing perspective. Conversation and dialogue are the best ways to learn about another’s perspective.
Perspective taking and empathy should not be confused with empathy.
Being an effective teacher requires you to navigate your way through all kinds of rough waters on a daily basis. You have to figure out what engages your students, whether their needs are met, deal with behaviour and respond to parents- all in a day's work.
Learning to see situations from other perspectives can help with all of these challenges, says Gillian Ku, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at London Business School (LBS). Her research on perspective-taking – “the active cognitive process of imagining the world from another’s vantage point” – suggests many potential benefits for teachers and leaders.
Perspective-taking is an important life skill, according to Dr Ku. It’s not to be confused with empathy, its emotional cousin. “Empathy is about feeling the other person’s feelings” or “being in the other person’s shoes”.
Perspective-taking is a cognitive phenomenon, a thought process.” It’s a process that begins in childhood: we start out with a more egocentric worldview then learn to adjust how we see things to accommodate others’ viewpoints.
This is especially applicable right now. “About half the world thinks Donald Trump is great, the other half thinks he’s horrible. There are two extremes, two polarised groups. How can they work together? If you’re a Democrat and you have friends who voted for Trump, do you just de-friend them – or do you try to picture where they’re coming from?”
Today we cracked the code on what can often be missing in our teaching lives, whether we are dealing with behaviour, responding to hostile parents, diffusing conflicts or listening to colleagues- having the cognitive awareness to see things differently is a necessary skill for teachers.
SMILE Teachers understands the need for perspective in schools and in education. We are faced with many challenges in the education world and it could be your different perspective that creates positive change by sparking a debate, generating a new idea or just seeing things differently. We challenge you to focus on your changing your perspective and just see how different things may be.
Improving the ability to think more creatively and with perspective are learned mental abilities that can be developed in our Mindset Manoeuvre Workshop on October the 5th or at our Bali Teachers Retreat in January.