The purpose of this activity is to put the students in a familiar scenario. The objective is for students to look at a situation objectively and apply their values accordingly. More specifically, how their values would influence their decisions, thoughts and actions. In the first part of the activity you will have students assess a past situation that they have been in. From there, students will break down the situation based on the prompts that are provided. An important aspect of this activity for students to understand the importance of allowing values to guide decision-making in real time, as opposed to hindsight. By having them think about a past incident, students are able to remove any emotional influence and be objective.
Start by addressing your students with the following:
“You’ve all been there. One of your “friends” tells you that someone is talking trash about you. You immediately get upset and proceed to tell all of your friends anything bad about that individual that comes to mind…how much you hate them, how they are a backstabber, or how they are jealous of you. And so it begins, the non-stop back and forth conversation that is not a conversation, only words coming from your “friends” who love to see you get fired up and angry. You don’t even think to approach this person about their alleged comments. You fall right into the trap that has been ruining teen relationships (and adults for that matter) since the dawn of time.”
After explaining this situation to your students, have them document their responses to the questions in the Hindsight is 20/20 activity.
Once students have finished answering the questions, ask students to think about the situation:
If they could go back and correct it, what would they change and why?
What would they describe as the most important factor that if changed would have the greatest impact on limiting situations such as these?
Regardless of the role the student played, have them articulate what they were in control of and what they were not in control of this situation. When looking at the information about what students were in control of and information they were not, ask students to identify what they can always CHOOSE to do, regardless of where they stand in incidents such as these.
These scenarios happen every day in every school around the world. The hope is that eventually cooler heads prevail and after a period of “peace” folks get back to treating each other respectfully, or at least in a non-provocative manner. But, what rarely happens is the key here. The step that very few, if any, are willing to take because they let their emotions, their predispositions, their judgments dictate their thinking. The critical step of asking themselves one simple question…”What if?”
“What if it isn’t true?”
“What if my friend is paraphrasing what she overheard?”
“What if my friend has it out for them and I wasn’t aware?”
“What if I approached them in a non-accusatory way and just asked them to help me understand the situation?”
All of these scenarios are rare. Why? Because it is easier. It is easier to find ways that validate our judgments, rather than contradict them. It is easier to fall into the mob mentality that is shallow and absent of accountability.