Throughout our lives, there are people who we will feel more comfortable with than others. These groups of individuals may share similar views, enjoy similar pastimes or may be experiencing similar life events. These are usually the people we develop relationships with. We feel connected to those people, relationships are formed, groups are formed and the subsequent development is a lively dynamic, a sense of belonging, an identity to the group. Within this context, individuals develop an identity and solidarity within the group.
There will also be people who we feel less comfortable with. These may be the people who disagree with the views of your group. They may disagree explicitly with the group’s perspective or they may disagree with individuals within the group. Sometimes this is so annoying and frustrating that we may avoid those people, disengage with them, ‘shut out their perspective’. Some members of the group may simplify and polarise these other perspectives and may even become disrespectful. Members of the group may publicly demonise and vilify other views with the condescending assumption that their group’s identity and perspective is ‘superior’ and ‘right’.
Groups of individuals and individuals on their own must be careful to listen to each other, to engage in respectful dialogue and to avoid creating an ‘otherness’, where one group or individual’s perspective is more important, significant or ‘right’ than the others.
Consider these ideas in relation to children in education and care services across Australia.
Is perspective important and is this what we mean when we refer to theories about the social construction of learning? Is listening to another person’s perspective an opportunity to co-construct and co-create new ideas, theories and questions about the world? If so, do we provide children with both the physical and social environments in our education and care settings with experiences to listen, debate and question?