Everyone Counts: Diverse Perspectives Shape the World
Perspectives and Points of View Do Not Develop in a Vacuum. They Spring from a Foundation of One’s Identity and Community
Lesson Objectives: Students will explore how their perspective is shaped by their identity and the communities to which they belong, and understand how groups influence one’s ideas and beliefs. Students will also gain an understanding of the differences between fact and opinion, and of how people form ideas and beliefs.
Curriculum Areas: Social studies, life skills
Time Required: 40 minutes
Materials Needed: Copies of Lesson 3 Reproducible (PDF); board and markers
Key Concepts: Perspectives, opinions, and points of view are not formed in a vacuum. They result not only from our identities and personal histories but also from influences that include our families and friends and the groups and communities of which we are a member.
Lesson Background: This lesson will explore the distinctions between the terms fact and opinion. Students will read three scenarios and answer questions that promote critical thinking as they deconstruct the scenarios to separate verifiable facts about an event from their opinions on the event. Students will recognize that the assumptions they make about events are influenced by their identities, prior experience, and background.
What You Will Do:
- Write the words “fact” and “opinion” on the chalkboard and ask students to define the terms (see below).
- Distribute Lesson 3 Reproducible, “Through the Eyes of the Beholder.” Have students read each of the three scenarios and answer the questions. After students complete the reproducible, choose one scenario and read it back to the students. (Note: Role-playing the scenarios with students can be an interactive way to help them determine their responses to the questions.) Work with them to identify which parts are facts and which parts are assumptions or opinions. For example, in Scenario 1, “Sam heard a police siren” is a factual statement—an action that took place. However, assumptions about why (since there is no information in the story as to why) are based on the reader’s personal experiences and perspectives.
- Discuss how students’ opinions are influenced by aspects of their identity as well as their prior experiences and memories.
- Now set up three columns on the board with headers that read “fact,” “opinion,” and “influencer.” Under each respective heading, work with your students to list their “fact” answers, “opinion” answers, and the possible “influencer” that may have shaped their opinions. After you collect possible answers, point out the facts and explain the different opinions given about the event. Ask your students why they think the answers came out that way. Explain to them that depending on where a reader comes from (identity, community, background, occupation, etc.), opinions might differ. For example, each reader relates differently to the experience of hearing a siren, since each brings a particular perspective to bear in interpreting the event.
Explain to students that different people can interpret events in many different ways. As a result of one’s prior experiences, background, and identity, one may place more emphasis on some facts than others.
- Why do we see things the way that we do? What influences our views of the world?
fact (noun) a statement or piece of information that can be proved to be true
interpret (verb) to decide what something means (interpretations are influenced by prior beliefs, perspectives, and facts related to similar situations)
opinion (noun) a belief or judgment about a subject, idea, or situation
perspective (noun) a particular way of looking at a situation