By Eve Schoenrock '18
Thursday, September 26, 2013 started out as a normal day. My classmates and I were sitting in history class taking our notes out, calmly, but it quickly turned into a chaotic scene. Laurent and Crockett came charging into the room, yelling and pushing one another.
Mrs. Robb came into the room immediately after Laurent and Crockett, yelling at them to break up the fight. She then told Mr. Moore, “They were spitting water at each other in the hallways! Ugh, this is why...,“ but she never got to finish her statement.
Crockett had just thrown a book off of his desk, somewhat in the direction of Laurent. This action caused Laurent and Crockett to begin yelling at each other, all over again, and Mrs. Robb began yelling at Mr. Moore for not having control and letting them go to get their netbooks together.
Meanwhile, the rest of the history class was sitting silently, stunned by what was happening in front of us.
After a couple of minutes, Mr. Moore and Mrs. Robb let us know that the entire situation had been phony, and it was a simulation to get us to think about the Boston Massacre. Mr. Moore then told us to write down what we had seen, and what our perspective was on what had just happened.
We all began to write a witness report. Some students wrote completely opposite things from others such as, “Laurent and Crockett burst in the door arguing about something. They both sat down, then Mrs. Robb walked in,” or “Crockett and Laurent walked in the room with Mrs. Robb.”
“Laurent threw a pencil at Crockett, which made Crockett spit water all over Laurent.”
“Crockett and Laurent were acting so weird, and I didn’t even see Mrs. Robb”
“Crockett and Laurent came in and Laurent said that Crockett is so mean!”
Some kids didn't even mention anything about water-spitting.
“Laurent threw a pencil at Crockett again, and they argued.”
“Both Crockett and Laurent blamed Mr. Moore for the fight.”
“I heard something about a water fountain.”
“Mr. Moore was trying to break up the fight.”
When people were asked what Mrs. Robb said, again, the answers varied:
“This is what happens when you let students get netbooks by themselves.”
“Mrs. Robb told Mr. Moore what a horrible teacher he is.”
“Mrs. Robb told Mr. Moore she was sorry but had to come into the classroom.”
“Mr. Moore was screaming at Mrs. Robb to calm down.”
“Mrs. Robb blamed everything on Mr. Moore.”
In the history that we have learned so far, there have been many perspectives shown. Each person, depending on their position and opinions, has different perspectives on events and a person's attitude towards an event can make a big difference on how it is portrayed to others. As we saw with our witness reports, the attitude or perspective on a certain event can change the telling of the event in dramatic ways.
Mr. Moore then read us two papers on the Boston Massacre, one from the perspective of a patriotic colonist, the other from a British redcoat. The redcoat made it sound like the entire Boston Massacre had been the colonists’ fault, and the colonist made it sound like the redcoats had instigated the Boston Massacre. Perspective can make a big impact on how things are interpreted, and you cannot always accept what you hear from others, it is just their opinion. In the words of writer Henry David Thoreau, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”
This year, we are encouraged to share our own perspectives on events. Perspective is important to all history classes because without the ability to have your own perspective. Will you always be accepting of what other people’s opinions are, thinking about them as if they are facts? We, as individuals, should think outside of the box by always considering the source of our information, and what the perspective of that source would most likely be. A great example is textbooks. The writers of textbooks are just other people in the world, expressing their perspective. I agree with John le Carré, that, “A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.”