When Perspectives Differ: Habits to Guide Us

  • Be curious and open-minded, gathering data through all senses, sources and perspectives
  • Strive for accuracy
  • Do what is right, whether based on values or facts

From the ‘KCS Habits of Mind, Body and Action’

Life is infinitely interesting. It is full of possibilities, challenges, perspectives and life paths that differ from one person to the next. All communities, from those that are family-sized to those that span the globe, contain this variety. It’s the spice of life!

We have all been in situations where variety in perspectives is challenging. Children can be particularly transparent in showing how their perspectives differ from those of their parents! Life in a healthy democracy means we see different perspectives clashing daily. The mindset people bring to conflicting perspectives determines whether we successfully navigate and benefit from the variety, or become paralyzed with frustration.

At KCS, different perspectives confront us at every turn. Not only do we learn about them through following current research and analysis in the field, we experience and work with it daily in order to maximize learning for our students. It is an inherent part of working with people, and a critical part of trying to accomplish something significant with them.

KCS strives to follow and teach the mindset that will allow all of us to manage and thrive from variety and complexity. Essentially, we work to build this mindset by developing certain habits of mind, body and action. These habits are posted in every classroom, taught, and referred to frequently. You can also find them here. Research and expert opinion is united on the significance of the 26 habits we have embraced as the essence of KCS.

So, what habits help when perspectives differ?

Being curious and open-minded, gathering data through all senses, sources and perspectives:

It starts with open-mindedness and a curiosity that drives your mind to collect all relevant information. It takes strength of character to resist jumping to conclusions before collecting information in such an open and thorough manner. When information conflicts with long-held assumptions or self-protecting opinions, real open-mindedness requires humility and courage.  It isn’t easy.

Striving for accuracy:

When all relevant information and perspectives are gathered, the mind must strive to determine what is accurate and true. If history is any measure, we are all vulnerable to being misled. We are vulnerable to what others say, to what we want to believe, and to being lazy in thought. Striving for accuracy requires mental strength and discipline. It isn’t easy.

Acting according to what is right, whether based on values or facts:

Following the thorough and open-minded collection of data and perspectives, and the exercise of discerning what is accurate versus what is not, action is required. Most days, and in most ways, acting according to what is right is the obvious and easy final step. However, on occasion, this can be the most challenging habit of all, as it has implications for our public face, our relationships with others and how we stand up to the status quo. At times, the act of doing what’s right in the face of personal cost takes exceptional integrity. At these times, it isn’t easy.

Wouldn’t it be nice if life were easy? Who among us has never longed for simpler days? If we’re lucky, we all have some times in our lives that are free of constant challenge. However, if we’re also honest with ourselves, embracing the challenge of different perspectives is what makes our lives rich and meaningful. I wouldn’t trade my children for the freedom from challenge! And I wouldn’t trade my profession for one that is less complex. The world is what it is, and we need to be prepared to be successful in it. With the right habits of mind, body and action, we will be. With the right habits of mind, body and action in our children, the world will be in good hands.

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