- A particular way of seeing something.
- To think about a situation or problem in a wise and reasonable way.
- To compare something to other things so it can be accurately and fairly judged.
Perspective-taking is a tool for learning at the professional level and as an invitation for children to see from the eyes or views of others. Perspective can be seen as an attitude or point of view which gets richer, more complex and deeper when we are open to multiple viewpoints. In preparation for a workshop for the Reading for the Love of It conference I am revisiting the concept of perspective and thinking about the hundred languages of children. Children possess a hundred languages, which mean that they have a hundred ways of thinking and expressing themselves. A hundred languages is a metaphor of the extraordinary potentials of children. A hundred languages is a way to think of opportunities for children to collaborate, realize new potentials and deepen their relationships with others. Books can be an invitation to think deeply, opening children’s minds and eyes to the complexities of their world. I love using children’s books in the workshops that I facilitate. I am always looking for recommendations and appreciate when others share their favourite children’s books. During a workshop when a participant shared, They all Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel, I was thrilled to find this joyous exploration of perspective. I am so appreciative of Tory McTaggart from Bound 2 Learn for the complimentary copy of this book and many others that I will share here and during my workshop at the Reading for the Love of It conference.
The Reggio Emilia Approach to early childhood education also offers an opportunity for joyful exploration of seeing different perspectives for anyone willing to take the journey. The journey of professional learning should be about being open to differing perspectives. Perspective-taking is important. It is important for children and for adults. In Mind in the Making Ellen Galinsky describes perspective-taking as involving distinct and significant skills for children, including:
- Determining how someone else feels – trying to figure out how another person is feeling or thinking.
- Inhibitory control – by putting our own thoughts on hold we can engage in perspective taking to think about the world from someone else’s understanding.
- Cognitive flexibility – to switch up our perspective we have to look outside the box of our normal thinking.
Through the magic of books, children can be encouraged to make meaning from multiple perspectives. They can practise cognitive flexibility where they change the focus of attention from themselves to someone else. They can practise inhibitory control when taking the perspective of others. They can collaboratively or individually determine how someone else feels, practising empathy. Try out these books to encourage perspective-taking. If there are any that you know that are not listed here please add your recommendations in the comment section. Even if you don’t have a recommendation but want to add your own perspective, please provide a comment! I will be giving away a copy of They all Saw a Cat to someone who adds their comments below!
Zoom by Istvan Banyai is a great little book that gives the reader an opportunity for perspective-taking. This wordless book can be read from front to back or back to front which in itself is a way to view things differently. For those readers of this blog who are inspired by the Looking Closely series by Frank Serafini, here is another opportunity for zooming in and looking closely.
Another book, that can be read from back to front or front to back is Humpty Dumpty: Flip-side Rhymes by Christopher Harbo. This a great way to give children a chance to practise cognitive flexibility!
Of all the books that I have read and reflected on that help children take the perspective of others, the one that has really taken my breath away and given me the opportunity for inhibitory control is I Like, I Don’t Like by Anna Baccelliere. Every child has the right to play and this book shows children that in some parts of the world others spend more time working than playing. This is an important book for perspective-taking as it so aptly captures how different the world can be from different perspectives.
Being open to new perspectives helps us to see different views. It helps everyone to learn to be empathetic and to reflect on social justice. In this wonderful article Children’s Perspective in Play: Documenting the Educational Process the authors relate the theory of a hundred languages to the listening perspective as Rinaldi (2006) explains, listening is a mode of thinking and perceiving oneself in relation to others and the world. This is as important for children as it for adults. Being open may lead to cognitive dissonance where there is a conflict of perspectives. In another wonderful article, Capturing Student Perspectives Through a ‘Reggio’ Lens the authors state that a conflict of perspectives should be part of the process of listening “where speakers constructively confront each other, experience conflict, and seek footing in a constant shift of perspectives” (Edwards et al., 1998, p. 241). What do you think about children practising perspective-taking? Do you have any recommendations for books that will encourage children to see the world through the eyes of others? Please add your ideas, thoughts and recommendations in the comment section. At the end of next month I will randomly draw and send out a copy of They All Saw a Cat to some lucky reader!