This week’s blogpost is a dialogue between teenagers about the tedium of lockdown. They discuss different approaches to comparing your situation with others, and to “positive thinking”.
The philosophical crux of the dialogue is this exchange (bold in the PDF):
TIM You’re always in charge of yourself. So, it’s up to you how you think.
LUCY But you’re not in charge of what happens to you. Some things are bad whatever you think.
MARIE I don’t think it’s up to you how you think, either… I think the people in charge need to change things, not tell people to change how they think.
I would recommend that you get some students to read the dialogue out loud, and then after some preliminary dialogue, repeat this section and focus on it, so as not to dwell on the context of lockdown. It’s a way of moving from the particular and personal to more general, philosophical thinking.
This is a philosophical dispute that has a deep history. Some philosophies claim that the individual has a great degree of freedom from “the world”, usually through some sort of self-discipline about their thoughts. Stoicism advocates accepting the world as it is; positive thinking claims you can change the world through your attitude; and other philosophies see the physical world as something to be transcended by spiritual practices. Other more worldly, political philosophies seek to change the world we live in, rather than how we respond to the world.
It’s interesting to think about our practice as teachers, too, and the balance between teaching children to thrive in the world as it is, such as resilience education, and teaching them to change the world, such as environmental activism.
As we settle in for what promises to be a long haul before any return to normality, I’m getting more enquiries about Zoom Training. For the remainder of this half term, I’m making discounted twilight slots available on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons. For £300 + VAT you can get a twilight of up to two hours exclusively for your staff. It is highly recommended that you purchase either the Primary Curriculum Pack or Sticky Questions or both to accompany your training if you haven’t already got them.
You can either start around 3.30 p.m. from school, or alternatively if your staff live nearby, you might consider encouraging people to make a swift getaway at the end of school and then join from the comfort of home.