A view from my side.
This one was originally posted in March 2012. As I prep for the coming school year, I remind myself of this experience and what it taught me. In an effort to get my kids to See a Different Glass, I often do exactly what my teacher did to me…I will set a glass in front of the group with some water in it, asking what they see. Then we talk about their answers and I try to get them to open their minds beyond what they’ve become accustomed to and beyond what they think I want them to say.
While my students are not subjected to the slew of standardized state tests, they are still learning to give “expected” answers. If you’re a parent, I’m sure you can relate as well. “How was your day?”, you ask. “Fine,” they reply. So, when asked certain types of questions in class, students will reply with the answer they think the teacher/professor wants. “Look at this glass, what do you see?”, gets the standard reply “It’s half full” or “It’s half empty.” I refuse to accept such answers in my class and force my students to think beyond the standard reply. I often reject an answer as “the easy answer” and force them to dig deeper and give me something else. Some days that works better than others. And, some days, the “easy answer” is actually a pretty good one.
And now, the original post:
You’ve experienced this before, I’m sure. The teacher/counselor/moderator/etc., puts the glass of water on the table in front of you/the group. The glass has some liquid in it and you are asked something along the lines of, “Tell me what you see.” Some people will say the glass is half full, while others will say the glass is half empty. From that, we surmise a person’s fundamental outlook on life.
I suggest we need to see something different. That we need to break out of the old mold. The first time I remember being asked this question, I saw neither a glass half full nor a glass half empty. I told my teacher that I saw a glass that was twice as large as it needed to be. Instead of discussing my answer, the teacher tried to force me into the mold of “half-full” or “half-empty.” He was uncomfortable with my answer and refused to even consider there might be a different glass.
I’ve never forgotten that moment and am actually grateful to my teacher. To this day it continues to motivate me to look at things differently, to consider the alternative, and to invite the insight of my students. It is for their benefit that I stand before them and I hold fast to the belief that they have legitimate contributions to make to their education. I at least owe it to them to listen and to consider what they have to say.