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What did you disagree with today?

“I was brought up to believe every story had at least three sides,” read a comment on our Facebook page this week. 

It’s a really important point: the ability to see an issue from different perspectives gives you a much deeper understanding of it and is crucial when developing solutions that work for a wide group of people. 

Unfortunately, the way most of us consume media these days mitigates against doing that.

Online algorithms feed us more of the same kind of content that we have read or liked before, so we are led down an increasingly narrow path or into what we’ve come to call an ‘echo chamber’.  

But the world doesn’t need more people who can explain what they and their friends on Facebook or Instagram think about a particular issue or what their preferred news source or columnist believes, it needs critical thinkers who can look at a variety of standpoints, come up with a reasoned way forward and communicate their ideas clearly and rationally.  

The secondary school years are a really good opportunity to start training young people to challenge their assumptions (and those of their peers, family and even teachers!) 

This is not so that they can necessarily reject them (although they might) but so that they can work out what they really think about any given issue and defend it from an evidence-based perspective.  

Something to try...

What was the last thing you strongly disagreed with? Perhaps it was a statement from a politician, a COVID-related policy, or a social media post by a celebrity or former colleague. 

Ask your children the same question and then see how many reasons you can come up with for supporting the opposite perspective from your own.  

And, as a rule of thumb, if you haven’t read anything you disagreed with recently, it might be a good idea to read or watch a wider variety of sources.  

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