Summer SAVY 2017, Session 3/Day 1- Truth vs. Perception (Rising 6th/7th)
All week long in “Truth vs. Perception” we will be exploring the various ways truths and realities are created and circulated, demonstrating just how subjective truth can be, and asking how we come to believe certain things to be true. We will be learning strategies for critical thinking as a way to draw ourselves out of our unquestioned assumptions and unexamined biases to recognize that truths exist everywhere and in various forms.
As a way to break the ice, we began class by playing A Truth and a Lie and then the Telephone Game…yup, that Telephone Game. We discussed how truths—in this case, the statements I made up—change, intentionally or not, the further from the source they get. Can we believe everything we hear?
Next we looked at some platitudes (commonly overused statements that lose meaning over time that are usually specific to a culture) like “money can’t buy happiness” and “winners never quit” in order to ask ourselves just how we learn the things we understand as “true,” what these things really mean, and whether or not there’s anything left in them we can believe.
Here is a link to page that goes into platitudes and provides more examples: https://literaryterms.net/platitude/
Since “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is a commonly used cliché, I decided to watch the episode of “The Twilight Zone” of the same name. I wanted students to not just question the meaningfulness of this platitude but also how perspective can influence the way we think about what’s normal and how that shapes our reality. I asked the students: when things that aren’t normal are accepted as normal, what does that do to our perception? From there, we listened to an episode of Invisibilia, a podcast produced by the people associated with This American Life and is all about the invisible forces that rule our lives, entitled “Reality.” The podcast covers the idea of reality bubbles—the circles we move in which influence how our lives are shaped and who we associate with. We discussed the bubbles the students have in their own lives, how they navigate them, and how those bubbles give them a specific way of thinking about the world while foreclosing other possibilities.
If you’re interested in more episodes of Invisibilia, they are available for free here: http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510307/invisibilia.
We closed the class by watching a short TEDTalk by Chris Kluwe about how augmented reality and how that can teach empathy. We’ll be coming back to the concept of empathy quite a lot this week.