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  • I tried to explain the idea of ‘different points of view’ and ‘the truth’ to my children. It all started with a Jesus question and ‘teacher says’. It wasn’t the first time, and I am not religious, but I always said to myself that I wouldn’t dictate my children’s opinion on the subject, but rather help them develop their own point of view. So my answer was: ‘I believe there was a man called Jesus, who told great stories and was, just like Joseph, a bit ahead of his time.’ Recently, the kids had their Stagecoach performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, so they knew what I was talking about. This, of course, provoked more questions: ‘But the teacher says’ - and they sat on the floor in my bedroom awaiting explanations. I told them that they shouldn’t believe or accept everything they are told is the truth, but should always ask questions and if possible, build on it.

    M: So my teacher is lying?

    MUM: No. She told you what she believes, but you shouldn’t accept that’s how it really is. But instead of telling her she is wrong, you could tell her your idea, talk about it and ask 'What if?'

    M: Oh.

    MUM: OK, so you build your best Lego spaceship. And you think that is exactly how it should be. And then your sister comes along and adds one small piece to it. That’s what 'What if?' means.

    M&A: (giggling) Oh, we do that all the time when we’re lying! She thinks of one bit and I think of the other bit of the story.

    MUM: (rolling her eyes) Yes, your lies are still pretty bad though.

    M: Aaaaah…

    MUM: So, you see, adults use ‘the truth’ to tell you how something is and should be. Look at this blanket, for example. What is it?

    M&A: A blanket?

    MUM: Yes, it’s a blanket. Is that the truth?

    M&A: Yes!!!

    MUM: It’s not, you see. Because it could also be a superhero’s cape. Or we could build a tent with it. Or we could cut it up and make finger puppets or clothes for your dolls. We could do all sorts of things, and so, this is not a blanket. It is whatever you want it to be, and there is no truth.

    The conversation then went off into the world of Lego and building and they seemed really excited and curious about the things I was telling them. So, I decided to show them the difference between the ‘Yes, but’ and ‘Yes, and’ conversations. I thought it would be fun to show them how to build on each other’s ideas. As all kids, M&A often can’t agree even though they love each other dearly and behave like twins.

    MUM: So, we are on holiday and we are trying to decide what to do and where to go. I will suggest something first and then you have to tell me your idea, but you must start the sentence with ‘Yes, but’.

    M: (giggling) OK.

    MUM: I want to go to the beach.

    M: Yes, but I want an ice-cream.

    A: Yes, but I want to go jumping (trampoline).

    MUM: Yes, but I want to swim.

    M: Yes, but I am hungry.

    A: Yes, but I want to go jumping.

    MUM: You see what happens here? We all have ideas, but we are not listening to each other. Every time a new idea is given, we kill it right away, and this way - we are never going to go anywhere. What a horrible holiday. Let’s try the other one now. Every sentence starts with ‘Yes, and’. You go first, M.

    M: OK. I want an ice-cream.

    MUM: Yes, and we could get it on the way to the beach.

    A: Yes, and we could get some watermelon.

    M: Yes, and we could eat the watermelon on the beach.

    A: Yes, and we could play ball on the beach.

    MUM: Yes, and we could go jumping after the beach.

    M&A: (laughing) This is fun!!!!

    MUM: You see what happened this time? We all had lots of ideas, but instead of killing them, we built on them – just like when you’re adding Lego pieces to your spaceships.

    M: You see, A, we don’t have to argue all the time.

    A: You are always arguing.

    M: No, you are…

    MUM: OK, OK… everyone has a different point of view. But that’s OK, because we are all different. And it’s good to be different. But you shouldn’t kill each other because of it, you can build on it. Yes?

    M&A: Yes…

    MUM: M, tell me something about A.

    M: She is weird.

    MUM: She is my daughter. You see what happened? Now tell me something about this hairbrush.

    M: It says ‘A’ on it.

    MUM: It’s made of wood and other bits and pieces. So we are looking at the same thing, but you are thinking one thing and I am thinking something different. The same is with your Jesus question. Your teacher and your Mum are looking at the same thing, but seeing differently. Let me show you what I mean…

    There is a large painting over my bed and my bed is accessible from 3 sides.

    MUM: OK, everybody off the bed. Let’s go to one side of the bed. Now, how we see the painting from this side is one point of view. Let’s go to the other side (and we all walk to the other side). That’s another point of view. And now we can stand in front of it (we climb on the bed, so we face the painting). This is also another point of view. You can look at everything from so many points of view, you will always see things a bit differently. So when your teacher talks about Jesus, she is standing on one side of the bed, and Mummy is on the other. You can stand and look at it from wherever you want.

    M: (entertained) I see! That is really cool!!

    A: I love you, Mummy.

    I was truly impressed with how well they took it all and how much fun it actually was for all of us. Everything is so much fun when you are with children and when you watch them connect little dots and make their own stories.

    But the big question is, if kids can get it – why are adults so ignorant?

    There is a blog with a neat list of Innovation Principles, and the Principle No.2 says: See and Hear With the Eyes of a Child. I always agreed with all of it, but what really struck me is a comment on the post:

    ‘You need to add that one of the things that inhibits people from seeing like a child is the fear of seeming like you don’t know. Kids aren’t afraid of looking like idiots. The harm of not knowing for adults is much greater.’

    We could blame schools, parents, society, capitalism and who knows whom and what else for our fear of not knowing. What is truly sad, though, is that, in our fear, we are truly ignorant to ourselves.
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