is it fact or fiction?

One of the current topics in education is about the role schools play in social emotional learning (SEL).

Conversations around SEL often include “Don’t tell my children what to think.”

There is also conversation about bias in news reporting.

I often click on the four major news station websites to see the difference in what makes a headline on one news outlet that may not even make it to the front page of another.

And I find myself asking another question.

What is a fact?

Merriam Webster defines a fact as something that has actual existence.

For example:  There were people outside the Capitol on January 6th with American and Trump flags.

That is a fact.

It would be fiction to say that there were not people outside the Capitol on January 6th with American and Trump flags.

Now we could go further with our statements of fact:

  • People bypassed security to enter the Capitol.
  • People used force to enter the Capitol.
  • The vote to certify the election did not occur in the timeline was delayed by hours.

Can we agree that all of these are facts?

Do we want to ignore some other facts?

  • Capitol police were injured.
  • Confederate and Nazi flags were on display.
  • The President tweeted on that day.

How do we recognize when we want to stop seeing facts?

And move beyond recognizing facts and into our own thoughts about a series of facts.

I have several thoughts about January 6th.

My thoughts create a great deal of emotion.

Some of the emotions are hard.

Causing me to ask myself, “What if…”

Thinking about who I want to have a conversation with to gain additional perspective.

What news channel do I want to tune into?

What actions do I want to take in my local community?

Asking myself is it all for nothing?

Or can the small acts lead to larger changes?

Or do I simply turn it off and not seek any more facts.

The thoughts causing emotions that are simply too much to handle.

You may be asking, what does this have to do with SEL?

A great deal.

Are we teaching our children what to think? Or are we teaching them how to think?

Recognizing what is fact?

What is fiction?

And most importantly – what is a fact vs. their own thoughts.

And taking it a couple steps further.

Understanding that their thoughts and their thoughts alone create feelings.

And those feelings drive within us a desire to take or not take action to create the results we want for ourselves and for the greater good of our communities.

Yes – my friends, our emotions do matter.

Understanding them can be one of the greatest tools in our toolkit of life.