My alter ego, Binder-Man, was just invited to his next adventure. This time, he’ll be speaking to a classroom full of third- and fourth-graders.
Is he scared? (You bet I am.)
Fortunately, Binder-Man isn’t going alone. He will enter the class armed with a fantastically fictional anecdote about an old dog, a Bombay cat, a huge mouse, a purple kangaroo and an aardvark named Phil. Binder-Man’s going to begin telling this story to the curious students, then invite them to enter into this world of fun and adventure.
Soon enough, the classroom will be a chaotic whirl of excitement and imagination. There’s thunder and lightning. Now, there’s a washed-out bridge and the screeching of wheels. One student will be up at the front, helping Binder-Man steer. Another will be standing on a desk as the lookout. A third will be crouched in a corner making sure Phil the aardvark doesn’t eat all of the supplies. The story will take on a life of its own as each student narrator adds their unique perspective.
Once the story finally reaches its happy end, Binder-Man will (somehow) settle everyone down again. Then he will ask for volunteers to describe what they just experienced. Hands will fly into the air as students offer their own account of what happened. Chances are, each student will remember the adventure in their own special way, and believe their story is the accurate one—even when their classmates claim otherwise.
Who’s right in this situation? We all are, Binder-Man will explain. We all see things a bit differently, and that’s okay. In fact, it’s what makes for the best kind of stories. The important thing is to listen to and appreciate others’ points of view. And with that, Binder-Man will swish his red cape and fly—awkwardly—out of the room.
I’m really scared to try this. I remember third- and fourth-graders as a tough crowd. I’ve considered playing hooky, but the message I want to deliver is an important one. Throughout much of my life, I’d always thought that the way I saw or remembered things was exactly the way they happened. After many misguided predicaments, I now know each of us perceives life experiences from our own unique perspective. And everyone’s viewpoint, except maybe for Phil the aardvark’s, is just as valid as mine.