We should try to learn from those who disagree with us.

By Editorial Board

With 1857 unique student voices, Upper Arlington High School becomes the daily gathering place for a multitude of unique individuals. Drawing from a diverse group of backgrounds, classrooms often become spaces of both discussion and debate as students share their own perspectives on a growing number of issues and opinions. When trying to put together the jigsaw of UAHS’ vast assortment of personalities and opinions, it helps to remember that it’s worth investing time in learning from the people around you.

Though there are always those who will disagree with you, it is important that as a member of this community, you know your opinion is valued. As high school is a space provided for students to grow and learn, we become not only more educated, but also better people, by taking time to listen to the opinions shared around us. In choosing to meet new people and listen to their ideas, you can only become more developed as a person. If you worry that surrounding yourself with people who might make you doubt your own opinions, maybe you haven’t considered the subject from all points of view. When you find a stance you believe in, it’s important not to doubt your own knowledge and to stand by your views, but any time you think you’ve heard enough to be certain of your opinion, you are closing yourself off from chances to learn and grow. In choosing not just to hear, but to listen and think, we let those who disagree with us expand our horizons.

In a time as politically polarized as the one in which we live, it may seem easy to look at situations and opinions, even ones far outside of the realm of political relevance, as black and white. Human beings are built to make quick judgements about the world around us; it helps simplify the enormous amount of information our brains would otherwise be busy taking in all the time. When meeting new people and exploring new ideas, we often assume we know more than we do. To get the most out of passing conversation, we should approach our interactions with new faces with an attitude of curiosity. We can learn the most from someone if we assume we don’t already know anything about them. Any time we assume we already know something about a person or situation, with the high chance we have miscalculated, we likely prevent ourselves from learning the nuances of what makes that person individual and unique. The best place to start is with an open mind, with as few assumptions as we can manage.

When we let our peers show us their views on subjects we already have concrete opinions, we allow ourselves to see another side of the story. Any idea you are certain of is likely one you haven’t considered from all angles. By looking for more sides to your views, you can develop your own perspectives and improve your understanding of the reasons others might disagree. By finding a balance of listening with intention and presenting your views with a positive and open minded attitude, all parties involved turn what would otherwise be trying to force your opinions through a brick wall into an exchange of ideas. By being open minded, you both can help others understand your opinions, as well as better understand theirs.

Though it may be easy to sit quietly in times of debate and disagreement, by injecting your own voice into the discussion, not only will you learn from the ways that people challenge your views, but you can learn more about the issues and topics themselves by hearing the voices and opinions of others. To opt out of civil debate is to sell yourself short of a chance to grow and to help others grow with you. With that said, take every day you spend at UAHS as an opportunity to be present, and you might find that your teachers aren’t the only ones in the room who have something to teach you.