Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Rats have feelings too.

I've been listening to podcasts lately and you guys, they're changing my life. 
It started with Serial...
Oh. My. Goodness. 
{I can't explain the magnitude of obsession this stupid podcast created...for real.}
{But seriously, what's the deal with Jay???}
It has since moved on to Invisibilia. 
This podcast, in a nutshell, "explores the intangible ways that shape human behavior."
One episode in particular has absolutely changed my life--
especially the teaching part of my life. 
The episode is called "How to Become Batman" and it deals with the effect that our expectations have on others. The bulk of the story is centered around a blind man named Daniel Kish that uses echolocation, like bats do, to find his way around the world. He has learned to be self-sufficient and his quest is to teach other blind people how to use echolocation and be self-sufficient too. This is Daniel. He rides a bike. 
Yes, a bike. 
Image result for blind man riding bike
 He says that our society has extremely low expectations for blind people and because of  these low expectations, they don't strive to see the world. His life's purpose is to change this. {There's SO MUCH more to this story, and I highly recommend you listen to the 
mind blowing discovery that is made during it...}

 As fascinating as Daniel's story was, the thing that changed me was the first 5 minutes of the podcast. It had to do with rats. And for the record, I am ridiculously afraid and paranoid around rodents of any kind, so for a rat to change my life is pretty freaking significant.
Image result for rats
{This Google image search almost put me over the edge...breathe, breathe, breathe...}

The premise of the experiment was to determine if personal thoughts about the rat would effect the rat. The lead scientist in the experiment put two signs on the rats cages; one sign said that certain rats were incredibly smart and the others were incredibly dumb. He wanted to see if our expectations of what we have in our heads about people, affects our behavior towards them. The rats that were said to be smart performed well and the ones thought to be dumb didn't. The signs were arbitrary and made up. There was nothing inferior or superior about either group, yet how they were treated by the scientists because of what they thought they knew about them, affected the outcome of their performance. 
 Image result for expectations
We limit people all the time because of the expectations we have of them.  
I know this isn't brand new information, but somehow during this podcast I felt insurmountable conviction that I have developed a terrible habit of conveying expectations of people--especially my students-- based on something that might not be true of them. I assume they are not capable of doing something because of what I believe about them. 
 And, when I do this, I limit them.
I felt even more conviction as the podcast went on and Daniel's story was shared. 
I realized that I would never, ever, in a million years think that someone like Daniel could do anything independent--like ride a bike--or ever see anything, ever. 
But this podcast changed my mind. 
I think the blind can see and I think that my expectations of people does affect them.
I'm a changed person. 
And then to exacerbate the conviction? 
I listened to the Invisibilia story called "Entanglement"...don't even get me started...
But trust me, I 'm really not the same now...oy vey.   
Image result for invisibilia
Happy listening. 

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