Should we listen to our instincts?
Or should we carefully analyse a situation before making a decision?
When we are faced with a unique situation, we are wise to pay less attention to our instincts. Instead, we should analyze all the possibilities before rationally making a decision.
How does this apply to life in school? If you are starting a new grade and have a new teacher, don’t make decisions based on how you feel. Maybe your previous teacher raised his voice when he was angry and so now you find yourself getting nervous when your new teacher raises her voice, but maybe when she raises her voice she is just trying to get your attention. Maybe your previous teacher sent you out of the classroom when he was displeased with you and so now you feel like you aren’t wanted when you find yourself in the hallway during classtime, but maybe your new teacher views the hallway as an alternative place to work for students who need a less distracting environment. So when you start a new school year, remember to ask a lot of questions and gather a lot of information before you make any decisions about whether you are going enjoy the year.
If we are faced with a familiar situation, we are wise to pay attention to our emotional responses. In those circumstances, analysis can present all sorts of irrelevant or unlikely factors, causing us to miss the most important factor.
How does this apply to life in school? If you start a new school year and feel unhappy when you discover a familiar student in your class again, listen to your emotions. Don’t try to talk yourself into thinking that everything will be fine and that you’ll be magically able to get along better with that student this year. You probably won’t. You probably will find the same problems popping up again. Don’t run away from the situation by asking to be put into another class. Don’t try to use all your old strategies for dealing with that student. Instead, go to your new teacher and ask for help to find new ways to deal with what is likely to become an uncomfortable situation.
For information about the science behind making decisions read How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009).
[This page may be copied for use with students if the following credit is provided: ©2010 Sophie Rosen.]