Monday, March 30, 2015

The One With Many-Faceted Stories #sol15

Every Tuesday, I participate in the Slice of Life challenge at Two Writing Teachers. Every March, the Slice of Life Challenge is a month-long experience where Slicers post every single day for the entire month. I'm joining in on the monthly challenge this year! For more information on what a Slice of Life post is about, you can go here.

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Before spring break, I mentioned to a colleague that I've been blogging everyday this month and sharing my story. She was interested in reading my blog posts and said she would e-mail me a link to Chimamanda Adichie's TedTalk - "The Danger of a Single Story". I watch it that night, mesmerized by Chimamanda's smile and her eloquent speech, but most importantly, the story in her words. She shares how easy it is to know one story and to base our understanding of others on that one story. Instead, she invites us to learn different stories - especially varying perspectives on a particular topic. She explains that by seeing one story through different lenses, we can better understand.  
Being a writer, I'm able to see the many facets of a story - sometimes I get weird looks when I come up with an outlandish explanation for something. I think the weird looks come when the other person would never dream of the story I came up with or when I'm imagining all sorts of things and it complicates being able to make a decision. But it's hard to turn off that writer brain! I'm glad that Chimamanda reminds me I need to value my ability to see different angles and to help others recognize the importance.

This year, I visited an 8th grade classroom when students were reading To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. The teacher asked me for suggestions of how students might be able to discuss questions using the laptops available to them in their classroom. We talked about trying Google Classroom and some other options and I looked over the discussion questions in the study guide she was using. When I flipped to an anticipation guide at the beginning, there were True/False questions asking the students to think about themes or big ideas. Immediately, my mind started racing, thinking about recent events in Ferguson and the NPR series, Serial and how media - social media and multimedia - could be incorporated into discussions to bring Scout and Jem's experiences from To Kill a Mockingbird right into the 21st century. 

How powerful would it be to:

ask questions relevant to today's world, 
offer various sides of this multi-dimensional story, 
give them access to resources, 
challenge them to make connections,

let them
analyze, 
compare, 
contrast, 
debate,
draw their own conclusions?

It's hard to do that with a single story.

Thinking about the discussions I would engage students in while reading To Kill a Mockingbird got me excited at first. But then the sadness struck. It's unfortunate that 55 years after it's publication, we are still struggling with issues of equity and equality.

In the book, Atticus says,  "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." I'll never forget that line, discussing what this means, how important it is. I'm glad for Chimamanda and her story, how she reminds us that it is dangerous to rely on a single story, that each and everyone of us can take time to consider different perspectives. 

This month, I've shared some of my story - my experiences and thoughts about my own identity. I appreciate everyone who has read one of my posts and those who have been here to read all of them and all of you in between. 

My story is only one single story but I hope it might contribute to the many stories available to us and to help expand others' point of view. We can have a richer discussion if we add all the stories to the mix.

To read my previous Slice of Life posts, click on any link below:

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