Looking at things the right way: the value of perspective

An email headed ‘Looking at things the right way’ recently landed in my inbox. It was a series of photographs about shifting perspectives: things that look perfectly normal from one view but a little odd (or wonderful) when looked at in another way. Some are cute, some are rude, some are funny, but I’ve included a couple of my favourites below.

At around the same time, I found myself chatting about my home town with Craig Taylor. Craig used to be based in Colchester during his army years; my parents live just outside Colchester, I spent my teenage years there and I still visit often. We were chatting about our favourite places to go and, when I mentioned that being a teenage girl going out in Colchester isn’t the nicest experience, Craig admitted that he used to love going out in Colchester. Without wanting to cast aspersions on Craig’s character, we realised that despite our different perspectives the underlying reason was probably exactly the same in both cases!

Anyway, both these incidents got me thinking about perspectives, and how two people can have a completely different understanding of a situation just based on their (physical or mental) viewpoint.

Often, a change in behaviour is linked to a change in attitude. And this in turn often depends on being able to alter somebody’s perspective; on being able to persuade them to look at something in a different way, from someone else’s point of view.

What if we applied this to e-learning? I’m wondering whether a topic like equality and diversity might pack the biggest punch if it included not just a scenario but an immersive scenario experienced from, say, three different viewpoints. As the learner moves through different perspectives (only one – or perhaps none – of which matches their own), each one contributes to and enhances their deep appreciation of the complexities of the issue. I can also see this working really effectively for something like sustainability or customer service, where there are multiple issues at stake (environmental factors or customer satisfaction balanced against company financial concerns, for example).

For an example of this approach for a much harder-hitting topic, take a look at Inside Disaster, which uses real news and eye-witness footage to allow you to experience the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake from a range of different perspectives.

4 thoughts on “Looking at things the right way: the value of perspective

  1. Pingback: Looking at things the right way – the importance of perspective @stephaniededhar « in the world of eLearning

  2. Gary Whitfield

    Steven R Covey talks about the paradigm shift of thinking in 7 habbits of highly effective people. Some of my favourite teachers from school were skilled at teaching history from various view points. I loved the fresh perspective of the book entitled “The Boy In The Stripped Pyjamas”. The cover gave nothing away so I read this story which eventually you recognised as written from the perspective of a German Officers son. Perspective!

    To help mould and change peoples perspective of life through e-learning…. sure! It’s part of story telling, but from a different angle… a new viewpoint. And it does not have to be expensive and certainly can be immersive.

    1. Stephanie Dedhar Post author

      That’s a great book Gary, and a great example of an unexpected or different point of view making a strong and lasting impression. Last year’s ‘Room’ by Emma Donoghue is another example – inspired by the Josef Fritzl case but told from the POV of the child, resulting in something which is refreshing, high impact, sometimes surprising, always emotional and very memorable. Thanks for reading and for your comment!


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