East, or West?

by Lisa Bullard


I think road-trip­ping togeth­er should be a require­ment for every cou­ple con­tem­plat­ing life part­ner­ship. There are few oth­er cir­cum­stances that allow you to so quick­ly learn about how some­one nav­i­gates through life.

Would you rather plan the whole trip in advance, or just get in the car and dri­ve? Do you stop and ask for direc­tions, or go ahead and get lost? Hotel room or camper? Talk radio or hip hop? Speed lim­it or speed­ster? Healthy or unhealthy foods? Good tip­per or bad?

Rid­ing togeth­er tells me almost every­thing I need to know about a per­son.

So does writ­ing togeth­er. In fact, one of the quick­est tricks I have for get­ting to know a new group of stu­dents is to pose a “would you rather…?” writ­ing prompt for them.

For exam­ple, I might prompt: “If you had to choose, would you rather have the pow­er of invis­i­bil­i­ty, or flight?” Then I’ll ask them to write about their choice for ten min­utes. Here’s what I’ve found:

Invis­i­bil­i­ty” kids often wor­ry that things are being kept from them, that there are impor­tant secrets they don’t know. Some­times they love being sneaky. Some­times they want to become invis­i­ble to bul­lies. Invis­i­bil­i­ty can be about revenge, or pow­er, or com­pil­ing infor­ma­tion.

Flight” kids often crave free­dom. They sense that they don’t know enough about the world. Some­times they feel supe­ri­or. Some­times they crave escape. Flight can be about expand­ing their hori­zons, or see­ing a dif­fer­ent point of view, or push­ing them­selves beyond the lim­its.

In oth­er words, by writ­ing out an answer to this one sim­ple ques­tion, stu­dents end up telling me an enor­mous amount about who they are and what they want from the world.

Would you rather go east or west? Think care­ful­ly: your answer might tell me more than you could ever guess.


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