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Should You Judge This?

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Should You Judge This?

An Article exploring judgement and points of view together with a process to help students improve their decisions and actions.



This is a Free Sample Resource
Categories: Article, Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills, Other Subject, All Ages

Tags: Decision Making Evaluation Assessment

Skinhead.

It's 1986. You see a male skinhead - bomber jacket, docs, jeans and braces - turning a corner, and breaking into run. He accelerates along the pavement past terraced houses. A woman stands on her doorstep and watches him shoot by. He's focused, running hard, has purpose. You see where he's going: he's coming up behind a man wearing a trilby hat, long black coat, carrying a briefcase. The man looks round and sees the skinhead charging towards him. He turns and raises his briefcase to protect himself. The skinhead reaches out to grab the briefcase.

Then you rewind a few seconds and your point of view changes. This time you are above the scene. You see the skinhead running towards the man again and reaching out in the same way. But from this perspective you also see a suspended pallet of building materials, directly above the man, about to come loose and fall on him. The skinhead grabs the man by his upper arms and pushes him to safety.

Watch it for real here.

Another Point of View

The skinhead has us worried, frightened, alert. All the cues are telling us what's happening. Isn't it obvious that he's going to attack the man in the hat? That is a reasonable assumption to make. But it's founded on shortcuts, biases, heuristics and expectations. It's a judgement made on instinct not critical thought.

It's an old clip, probably dated and over-used, but it continues to make an essential point: There's always another point of view. There's always another perspective that might influence, change or even enrich your own. There can be real value in pausing judgement, at least for a while. 

Of course, in that kind of scenario, time for considered thought is not a luxury we have. Ask the skinhead. He judged and made a decision, a life saving one. He made it quickly; no planning or evaluation needed. There are times when we have to judge and act fast. But there are many others when we don't need to, when there is time to pause, think and consider another point of view first.

Teaching Children to Judge Well

Watch the tweets rush in when a major news story breaks. Judgement is speedy and opinion raw. Spats begin, words are weaponised and sides dig in. The intensity and speed of an event provokes tweeters to express core beliefs and make instant evaluations - all in less that 140 characters (and an image). They see others doing the same and react to them straight away.

To counter this we need to teach discernment: the ability to judge well. We need to help students take time to take a breath, count to ten, acknowledge that there may be something more to it than their own first reaction. 

We can help them to seek other points of view, even if they end up sticking to their original thoughts. At least they tested out their opinion, their judgement, their decision

Here's a simple process you can adapt for your pupils:

  1. Ask yourself, is there time to think first before I judge, decide and act?
  2. If there is, pause your judgement, your decision and your action. Take 1 minute. 5. 10. Whatever you can/need.
  3. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
  4. If I was looking at this situation through someone else's eyes, what would they see and what would they be thinking?
  5. If I was looking back in time, from the future, at this situation, what would I see and what would I be thinking?
  6. Is there anything else about this situation that I'm missing or that I can learn before I act?
  7. Then judge, decide, act.

Would judgement, decisions and actions be improved with this process? Try it out. Let me know.




Related Resources:

Critical Thinking

Judgement Think Sheet

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