Impact: Irrelevance Is Best, Part 3

In a stack of papers called Instruction.

  • Aug
  • 21
  • 2006

If “a hurricane triggered by butterfly wings,” this idea that a small action can have gigantic and unforeseen consequences far away, is accurate then students need to be aware of how the things they do impact people they will never meet. The easiest way to do that, as I can see it, is to introduce students to various ways of life through reading.

Hurricanes And Butterflies

The lack of that awareness is what causes knee-jerk responses like the Deleting Online Predators Act; students don’t realize that what they type on MySpace (the butterfly wings) impacts people other than their MySpace Friends (the hurricane).

There are plenty of other hurricanes and butterflies in people’s lives, MySpace being the least of them: politics is a huge one, an arena in which most people are convinced that their participation means nothing. In reality, the apathy of the majority is what keeps incumbents in office. A more local issue is the case of students who throw their trash on the ground. Do they realize that they’ve created more work for someone else to clean up? Do they even think of that? Would they care? But would they care if it meant their friend had to clean it up? Would they care if they knew the janitor personally?

Not recognizing that that there are others all around them influenced by their decisions is a huge mistake and one that needs correcting before they leave high school. If all students know are their lives, then their actions don’t extend any further than that. By reading details of life outside their usual routine, students can begin to see how the life they lead impacts the lives of others. They can even begin to see how larger issues, like US foreign policy or the Kyoto Treaty or even the person they elect as city mayor, impact the lives of others. Without a lense to view the rest of the world through (reading), we cannot expect students to care about the lives they never see.

Friday: Maturity

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