Reference Points

Bookmobile driving got me thinking last week. The trainer taught me to find and use "reference points" - which felt a bit like a magic trick. (Why I had never heard of this before, I do not know.) Now I keep my accelerator foot over the dark line that runs down the center of the lane. It's a kind of burnt oil line - so it disappears on new or little used roads, but still, it's a good reference point. "Own your space," the trainer lady kept saying. "Own your space. Good ... good... very good!" (as an 18-wheeler passes going the other way and I finally learn to own my space and not shy away from the enormous log-laden monster owning his space)

I got to thinking about how influenced we are by our reference points. For instance, I have known children who have only been used as pawns, or beaten, or otherwise treated very badly by adults - and so how do these children use such reference points? They shy away from the adult line down the lane. Why wouldn't they? It makes perfect sense. There are no kind, dependable, loving adults in the reference points these kids can use.

Or women who seem never to have known honorable men. Women whose mothers had no use except "using" the stunningly dishonorable men who find such women like yellow jackets find the fried chicken in a picnic. It's like such lousy (or worse, pathetic) men can smell the situation from across the forest. Be fried chicken, the yellow jackets will find you. Be a woman who has no use for a good, kind man, and the lousy ones find you. And the growing girls and boys who watch this? What are their reference points? Opportunism. Self-protection. Lots of danger signals. Greasy, weirdly attractive, symbiotic relationships. (from natureking: These are a Vespid wasp and are a member of the hornet family (vespula hymenoptera). They can be very aggressive when disturbed.)

Reference points. It's the point of this John Mayer song, played for me by my then-teenage son a few years ago ... when he started to see the effects of some really bad information some of his peers were using as reference points. It's the reason children don't seem to learn what we think we're teaching them. They're not looking at the driving manual - they're using the reference points.

1 comment:

Melanie Booth said...

Brilliant, again, Stephanie! What a great way to think about school, too! Where are the "reference points" that serve to help you integrate what you are learning? They can be positive, and not so much... But now you have me thinking!