Brian is a seven year old first grader and a budding entomologist. Tall for his age, he patrols the playground and is alert to other students doing anything mean to insects. One afternoon his teacher reads Charlotte’s Web to the class.As she talks about Charlotte the spider, a rather loud voice interrupts saying, “Actually, that would not be part of an arachnid’s diet.”
The mood shatters.The reaction from his classmates is swift, “You ruin everything.” “You’re so weird.” His exasperated teacher explains that this is a pretend story. It doesn’t have to be like real life. In one way or another, on and off for two weeks, he is punished for his outburst.
Brian explained the teacher’s mistaken information and asked why she wouldn’twant him to correct her. As he put it, “This is school. Shouldn’t it be correct?” Sadly for Brian, Dr. Johnson said, “Yes and no.”
Brian had been thinking over his outburst. He was trying hard to understand why his teacher would give what he knew to be inaccurate information to the class. The dilemma gripped him in place. He was angry about being treated badly at school and felt he had no friends.
Dr. Johnson suggested a compromise by saying, “If a spider can talk, shouldn’t it be able to eat anything it wants? It’s part of being a pretend story.” Brian agreed to the compromise and next visit said, “I think I was being a scientist at the wrong time.”
Pride and Prejudice
Most of us want to believe we’re doing the right thing at least some of the time. Having strong feelings and opinions can make revising a decision or changing a course of action difficult. This requires energy and school was draining Brian’s self-control, making Watch Your Speed essential.
Brian’s compromise came in several forms. He had to accept the “rules of fairy-tales” for the sake of the storyand use Find the Middle Ground and Flex Your Mind.Not an easy compromise forsomeone who prides himself on his accurate fund of information. It probably hurt to bend that much.
When Dr. Johnson proposed re-framing the issue as one of “fairy-tale fairness,” Brian’s sense of justice was satisfied, and he could go on to Get the Big Picture, to learn distinctions between fiction and reality.
Gaining self-control isn’t easy when you feel assaulted from multiple sides. Brian’s self-control increased over the following weeks, and he showed a willingness to change his behavior. That helped the incident fade into the past.
Brian is a scientist, and he’ll learn to talk to other scientists, butnot during story time.
Brain learned that when youGet the Big Picture,you can see that Change is O.K.