A Joke Gets Me Thinking

HAPPY AUTUMN! I hope you are feeling cozy and warm in the cooler weather and enjoying the changing colors and crisp air. I love the sun, and I admit the recent rains were refreshing!

Do you enjoy jokes?A friend of mine sends out a “recycled joke of the day.” Most days, even if I have heard them before, I find myself smiling, even chuckling – a lovely way to start the day!

Today’s joke made me smile and it also got me to thinking about how often we assume incompetence based on our own filters, when there is actually a great deal of ability present. I know how I feel when my abilities or my contribution is underestimated. I can just imagine how this must feel when it happens on a daily basis.

For example, on the average people allow 2-3 seconds for another person to respond before assuming they didn’t hear or don’t know the answer. What if it takes longer to process the information or locate the answer in your memory banks? What about in school when a few seconds seem endless? What decisions are made about students that take a bit longer to respond that might be far from accurate?

I wonder if it would benefit the other students as well if we allowed a bit more time for an answer to be formulated. Would we be modeling more compassion and respect by waiting a bit longer? Would they, by imitation, also learn that intelligence is not determined by age, size, ability to speak fluently, or the speed one can respond to a question?

Another example of assuming incompetence came up recently during a meeting with a teacher who told me that a student, “Clearly did not care about his spelling words.” I asked her how she determined that and her response was, “He stopped after the 5th one on the test, clearly it wasn’t important to him to learn them.” The reality was that the child cared very much and actually knew all the words. However the test was going too slow for him to stay focused, with words being repeated several times. He stopped because he couldn’t hold focus any more, not because he didn’t care. What struck me here was that the teacher immediately assumed he didn’t care didn’t know the material. He felt terrible about the test and she had no idea.

I think we all do this to some extent or another. To see how much you are unconsciously assuming, and perhaps inviting incompetence, try an experiment. Take a day and assume competence. In each situation you enter into with adults or children, find an explanation that is based on the premise that the person can do it, wants to do it, tried to do it, cares about doing well and something else got in the way. Is your response different? Do you feel differently inside? How about their response to you, did it change? With this information you may see with a different perspective.

We all like to be believed in….don’t you?

Oh, the joke I read today that started all this? It’s cute..

Dinosaurs are fascinating. My four-year-old is obsessed with them.

Recently we were riding on a bus, and he asked another passenger for her name.

“My name is Deena,” she said, kindly talking down to him. “Can you say Deena?”

“Deena,” said my son. “Can you say pachycephalosaurus?”

~thank you Don!


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