Sleight of Hand

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Sleight of Hand

by Kathleen M. Purcell,
Stability Perception

Tricked by teachers? Well, it didn’t turn out all that bad as I learned a valuable lesson that has stayed with me throughout my life. When I was in high school taking political radicalism a teacher and his class joined us for a discussion. The other teacher studied handwriting and he noticed that one of the students has a gift. We sent the student into the hallway then other students took turns choosing objects in the room. The student returned to the classroom and slowly guessed them all. Beginner’s luck? Was he tipped off? We were skeptical at first, so we sent him out three more times. Each time different students from both our classes would fetch him. The student correctly picked out the objects. Our doubt was replaced with amazement.

It turned out to be a hoax. The teachers wanted to emphasize that visiting radical groups would try to sway us. We had to be on our toes. It taught me to be a critical listener and thinker. Even though someone may be a person of authority, like a teacher, I still had to think about what they said and what result they wanted to achieve.

Sometimes things are easy to decipher because they seem too good to be true. I’ve learned to pause when something seems reasonable. I mull it over because regardless of if I’m reading information or if someone is speaking to me I know there is a motivation behind everything (to sell me something, influence me, get me to do something, or persuade me to think like them). To take the pressure off snap decision moments I tell the person that I need to check my calendar, ask for more reading materials or say that I’ll get back to them. It gives me time to process the information. Regardless of my age I always go back to that day in the classroom so that I can listen to my gut, use my head and make decisions based on what is right for me. Little did I know that moment in high school would affect me so profoundly. It was singularly one of the best lessons I ever learned.