Is it what happened that’s making you mad? Or is it the story you’re telling yourself about what happened that’s making you mad?
It’s not a bad idea everyone once in a while to check yourself.
Sometimes we live in a little echo chamber, either in real life or online. It’s easy to gravitate to ideas and people that you agree with, and then reinforce our beliefs with their validation. It feels good because it’s comfortable and safe.
But after a while, the story we tell ourselves isn’t always the most accurate. The memories we have are probably being recalled through blissful rose-colored glasses, or conversely, whatever color the opposite emotion might be. Grey? Black? Was it really as good as we remember? Was it really as bad?
When we use reading comprehension strategies with students, we encourage them to make connections to their lives, to other things they have read, or to the world around them, in an effort to both make sense of what they are reading and to internalize it in some way. To make it stick. It feels like our memories work that way too. I’m not always remembering just the facts of what happened, but how it made me feel, and the ripple-effects it had.
And therein lies part of the problem: it has been colored. It has been changed.
And in my remembering, often over years, it has changed me.
So once in a while, it’s a good idea to separate facts from feelings to get nearer to the reality of the story. I needed to do that this week. *Correction: I needed help doing that this week.* It’s hard because it requires some intense personal reflection. Working out my own biases and perceptions helped to clarify why I was upset: not to discount the emotions involved in it (those are real) or to diminish the anger (I was still mad) but to see things in as clear a light as possible.
Meeting with my liaison students this week, this came up for some of them as well. Thinking about our own part in relationships, not just putting it off onto the other person. Recognizing areas that we haven’t been honest about, especially being honest to ourselves. And most importantly, thinking of how to move forward…mending broken connections, making a plan to catch up on work, advocating for ourselves, and (sometimes sheepishly and reluctantly) acknowledging our own failings and thinking of ways to make it right.
It’s important to question all the stories we hear. I picked up a copy of “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” for reading time. It’s a true story, and although not one of the most captivating books I’ve read recently, it was interesting. (Not sure how it ends yet…I’ll be done it on Monday!) I also follow the Auschwitz Memorial on Twitter and was surprised to see that they don’t endorse the book. “Due to the number of factual errors it cannot be recommended as a valuable educational reading to understand the history of the camp…the book is an impression about Auschwitz inspired by authentic events, almost without any value as a document.” The story is colored by memory and feelings, and had I not come across that, I might have taken everything in the novel as fact. As I lend my book out, I’m copying the caution from the Auschwitz Memorial in it so that people read it with a more critical lens than I did.
In Social 8, we have been using Concentus.ca and Tolerance.org to examine our Canadian stories, specifically to determine how Canada’s identity has been shaped by our history. It has been interesting to watch as students wrestle with the idea that Canada has always been a welcoming and open-hearted country, juxtaposed with the facts….Acadian deportation, internment of Ukranian and Japanese Canadians, treatment of indigenous people in residential schools and the 60s Scoop, the Chinese Head Tax, turning away Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, and much much more. Cognitive dissonance in abundance as they weighed the story and the facts.
In an era of fake news, it’s a horrifying thought that we are undoubtedly forming new stories in our lives based on information that isn’t even true. There are days I really long for pre-internet ignorance when things were never in doubt. (But then I need a recipe off allrecipes.com, need to know how to get water stains out of cowboy boots, or dm someone overseas and I wonder how I could live without it lol.)
I’ll finish with a tweet by Ashley Semrick (@HelloSemrick) where she poses the following questions:
Who is telling the story? Who is being left out of the story? Why are they being left out? What do we do with parts of our history that make us uncomfortable? Who gets to decide which parts of history are told? Does telling your story give you a voice? Does not telling it take your voice away?
As we go into this first week of December, write your own story (good job Lori N. on starting your blog!) and make everyone welcome. Tawâw. Tervetuloa.
Perpetual amateur. Lifelong learner. Vice-Principal. Teacher. Musician. Mom. Annnnd if you're reading this, then I'm still a blogger.