Beyond an Initial Viewpoint

Submitted By:
Miranda Orbach, The Chapin School, New York, NY

A Matter of Perspective by Jessica Minahan
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ascd) Vol. 81 No.3, November 1, 2023

In A Matter of Perspective, Jessica Minahan emphasizes the importance of taking time to explicitly help students develop the ability to consider multiple perspectives, especially when acknowledging, reflecting on, and repairing behavioral incidents. She makes the case for identifying gaps in students’ perspective-taking skills, just as we do with academic skills. This posture has become more critical over the last several years, as schools are faced with increased mental health and behavioral challenges in students. While social emotional skills are naturally integrated into Lower School learning, direct instruction in social skills often decreases once students enter secondary school. Minahan argues that teachers in academic subjects can reinforce perspective-taking, thereby increasing empathy and the capacity for engaging in civil discourse. She cites a body of research that identifies the individual factors that impact one’s ability to consider situations beyond an initial viewpoint. Post-pandemic, both students and teachers alike can benefit from slowing down to really consider one another’s perspective – a dynamic digital interactions can obscure. Additionally, Minahan’s suggested approach helps confront bias when managing behavioral challenges within the school setting. Our job as educators is to help shape the next generation – their perspective matters.

Social-Emotional Learning
Teaching Practice