Thinking of Assumptions


I do not know many people that do not text. I also do not know of many people that haven’t at some point in time been confused by someone else’s text to them.

I believe this is because when we text there isn’t really a clear way to understand the true emotion behind what someone is saying. Everything is left to interpretation and assumptions which can often cause problems between people.

Even when speaking directly to people, assumptions can often be the worst nightmare for the productivity status of a team. I still remember in 8th grade geometry class when I was learning about proofs for the first time and our teacher told us, “Never assume things, because if they are wrong then everything else gets messed up too.” It wasn’t until high school that I realized just how true this statement is for all of life; even outside of math.

I’ve also realized, though, how difficult it is to not make assumptions. I know I do it by accident all of the time. I will make a statement about something without knowing the full story and then I may accidentally offend others because the meaning to my statement comes out wrong. I’m not purposely trying to offend others, but sometimes I just don’t realize the consequential effect of my words. Words are a powerful thing.

In some cases it could be that I write something with one meaning, but someone else makes assumptions based on what they think my statement meant that isn’t really what I meant at all.

I’ve been wondering lately if sometimes the way I talk about design thinking, in education specifically, can get mixed up in this mess of assumptions, so I’d like to maybe set some clarity to a myth I fear people believe about me:

I do not think design thinking in school is 100% the best way to have class.

Now I already know that probably wasn’t worded the best way, so let me use the example of my AP Lang Collab Course. I love the ideas behind our course, and so far, I think it is going really well. Furthermore, I’m super excited to see how it all turns out. But I also know that this is still iteration 1.0, and this is an experiment to say the least. We are experimenting with how classes could be run at school.

Like any experiment, we do not know what the outcomes of the course will be. I hope and hypothesize that there will be positive outcomes, but I wouldn’t say our class is “better” than any other AP Lang class. It is just different. It is a different way of learning and we are seeing what the outcomes of this new way will be. And even if the outcomes are positive, I still wouldn’t say that our way is “better,” because everyone learns differently so there isn’t one way that is “best” for anything. While I may prefer DT to other more traditional teaching methods, not everyone does, and it may not always be the best way to go about a task depending on what your goal is.

It’s hard to not make assumptions, and equally as hard to say things that don’t lead others to make false assumptions. However, I hope that over time I can get better at suspending judgment and using wording styles that more accurately articulate what I mean.

One thought on “Thinking of Assumptions

  1. Anya, I would suggest you read/listen to Seth Godin as he writes and speaks about “the resistance.” In one of his many books, Linchpin, he shared great insights about the nature of the resistance when people “choose themselves” and work to innovate.

    I am very proud of and excited about your experimenting, prototyping, and venturing into new schooling territory. We are a school of inquiry, innovation, and impact. And I appreciate your positive disruption for the learning and innovation it will bring in the near and far future. Pioneering is hard work, and I am thankful that you and Kat have left port to sail into new territory for us all.

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