My husband is a football fan and supports Gillingham FC who are in Kent. Some pundits may consider putting Gillingham and football into the same sentence is a wish too far but that is a matter of opinion!
Opinions and not giving them is the subject of Terry’s 25 Ways to Make Yourself Unpopular – Don’t give an Opinion. In it he cites situations where people just sit on the fence despite being encouraged to join in the debate and ‘ give an opinion.
The reason I started with a mention for the Gills was that we have been to a couple of matches recently when someone REALLY should have given an opinion but didn’t. That someone was a linesman who either was terribly new and had not read the rules or he was very nervous of making a mistake. His answer was to wait until he saw what the referree thought and duplicate. This meant that the crowd who were near him got ever increasingly annoyed when he did not wave his flag at off side or when there was a foul in an area of the pitch that was not visiable to the referee.
This is a bit of an extreme example but it does show that if you have a position that requires an opinion to be made then you have to give one. It may not tie in with the rest of the team but it may actually be the opinion that makes the difference.
As teachers, we need to make sure that we have given our young people the skills and confidence to give an opinion. How many times have you been aware that when asked, certain children will go with the majority despite being completely out of their comfort zone? I know peer pressure comes into it but if we equipped our pupils with the self-esteem, those occasions may be fewer.
It takes confidence and knowledge to give an opinion. The knowledge may not be sufficient but developing opinions is something we can help with quite early in the process.
Julia Skinner is a retired primary headteacher living in Bristol in the South West of England. She is very involved in class blogging and the use of social media in schools.
You can catch up on the other posts in the 25 ways to make yourself unpopular series by clicking on that link!