Friday, January 07, 2011

Are You Afraid to Raise Your Hand?

In every classroom there is a spectrum of hand-raisers. This behavior becomes predictable over the course of the school year. What I always hope for and work towards is to see different hands every day. Here's what I usually see:

  • I know it all, and I need to let you know that I know it all.
  • I think I know, but I could be wrong and am willing to risk it.
  • I do not want you to know that I don't know, so I'm raising my hand along with everyone else.
  • I have no clue, so I'm going to wing it, and hopefully make everyone laugh.
  • I know. Isn't raising your hand what you're supposed to do when you know?
The ones who don't raise their hands fall into these categories:
  • If I don't raise my hand, you won't see me, and I don't want you to notice me.
  • I know, but I don't care.
  • I have no clue, and there's no way I'm risking it!
  • What? Did you ask something? Sorry, I wasn't listening.
  • I know, but I don't want everyone else to know I know - it's not cool.
  • I have no idea of what you just said - so how would I be able to answer you?
When we raise our hands (or don't raise our hands), we're making a claim to knowledge or agreement. I've been in situations where we ask people to raise their hands, but everyone keeps their heads down and eyes closed - anonymity of knowledge at play.

It all comes down to your own decision of when you want to be counted and when you don't. Kids aren't the only ones who don't like to raise their hands.

Raising your hand may mean that you need help, that you are confused, that you don't know what you should know. It is an admission of guilt, of ignorance, of participation, of inclusion, of agreement or disagreement. 

What group do you want to belong in? The ones that know or the ones that don't know?

Can we really ever make it safe to raise your hand?

It's risky business, this hand-raising. Ask your kids!
So, let me ask you then? How many of you are afraid to raise your hand? ;)