Over the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a beta test of an internship-style program with a group of high school students about life skills for thriving independently. We’re tackling both tactical and tangible life skills (think resumes, budgeting, and making appointments), as well as self-management and social-emotional learning (think self-care, mental health, and thinking for/trusting oneself and speaking up).
To say I’ve been pleased with the work I’ve seen thus far is an understatement — I’ve been blown away by the thoughtfulness of the answers, the willingness to ask questions, and the effort put in.
One early assignment had them reading and then reflecting on a post by Seth Godin on arguments.
Today (with approval by the writers), I’m sharing two of the responses. Take a read of Seth’s initial post and then the students’ thoughts below. What do you think?
In the Wrong
I found Seth Godin’s post very interesting and relatable to what happens in our everyday lives. He points out how we impulsively focus on other people’s wrongs in a situation or argument to make ourselves seem right. We are so fixated on the fact that there’s a “right” in every situation that we tend to fear and oppose being wrong altogether. It may seem that being wrong is what makes people weak, but this is just a bad stigma that’s been preserved for years and years. Personally, I feel attacked and embarrassed when I’m “in the wrong”, so I avoid thinking rationally and let my emotions defend my actions. Mistakes and failures are what make humans stronger, so I think that experiencing wrong is something that I and society need to accept in order to move forward in life.
I Humbly Say: Let the Heat Rage On
I beg to differ with Seth on the bit that states: ” …the heated part of the conversation is probably worth avoiding”. I believe this is one of the best parts of any argument. “Heat” in an argument shows that there is passion in what is being argued over, that perhaps it has a sense of meaning instead of some little thing. But even if it is some little thing to get heated over, why should it be avoided?
The issue with disagreements is that people are afraid to show that they are passionate and willing to truly fight for something they believe in. On the basis of arguments, there is always this stigma, as acknowledged by Seth, that one person has to be right or wrong. That does not have to be the case, because people do have different perspectives and with that comes differing conclusions and ideas, so the greatest benefit from a heated argument is the ability to learn from it. The heat of an argument enables people to see one another’s emotions, something that people often shy away from because emotions have been made to be seen as a bad thing. I do not believe that anyone should have to work on getting “heated” within an argument because it shows that you are a person.
Now, I acknowledge there are limits to a heated argument. I don’t want any fist fights erupting over which is better, chocolate or vanilla, but I do believe there is something to be said to allowing emotions to get the better of us at times. We are taught to argue in a way that conforms to that of a template, with fill in the blanks like “I humbly disagree with your opinion because of x, y, and z”. But how fun is it to have opinions and differing thoughts if we are simply crippling them on the way out? By confining arguments to a box and withholding the heat, we are not doing ourselves any good. In fact, I believe that we are diminishing our potential to reach greater understanding and insight between one another.
I humbly say: Let the heat rage on.
Can I say BLOWN AWAY again? What thoughtfulness. And these responses are just the tip of the iceberg.