Look deeper, look longer, see further

As the winter term draws to a close, and we exit rolling power outages for now, it might be useful to think about perspectives. You have yours and I have mine. These are not opinions. They are viewpoints or ways of looking at the world through lenses tinted by unique experiences and heritage. Our view is only a view. We can share it with others and learn about theirs. Let’s look at some examples of closer, wider and longer perspectives. Let’s look closer. See the playing card. It is the red eight (8) of diamonds, instantly recognisable by the number ‘8’ and eight red diamonds in a balanced array. Look a little closer and explore another dimension. Do you see the ‘8’ formed in the white space between the red diamonds? Once you see it, you can’t ‘unsee’ it. If you didn’t see it before this prompt, then you have just experienced mediation from someone else who did. You were guided to look differently because they had already seen what is to find. Does it matter where we pick up the value ‘8’ in identifying this card? Not at all, but our experience of looking together offers richer options. 

Let’s look wider. 

Let’s look at a house of cards, our country. Keeping the #speakSAup sign mounted on the wall as one enters the school building has been challenging this year, until stepping back to look wider than the tabloid and media lens that is. There is, in fairness to the world of news, a plethora of shocking headlines and exposés for journalists to feast on. The decay of all our infrastructure cannot be hidden. The agonising poverty that is the lived experience of thousands seems beyond redemption. A multitude of corrupt politicians who deliberately and continuously advance the rot disappoint all citizens who believe in building a bright future for South Africa together. Power outages are gruelling, giving all of us a reminder of the country’s crisis three times a day. Debt is rising. Roads are in disrepair. Opportunities are scarce. Education, security services, health care, home affairs, transport, water and sanitation services are collapsed due to neglect and thievery. The riots and looting of 2021 have slipped into a ‘cold case’, with no closure. The captured corrupt appear to face no consequence. What is there to speak positively about? The narrow view would respond, “Nothing, there is nothing to be positive about.”
The wider view offers something better. South Africans are innovative, resilient and smart. We pioneer solutions and make plans with limited resources. As a people, we find an unexplained ability to come together for a common cause, with humility, humanity and a solid dose of humour where we can. The faith of others is respected and communities meet openly to lean into their scriptures and mentors. Freedom of worship is a given unlike many parts of the world. The wider view counts and values the power of women in this country, to hold households together, work industriously and demand change. It counts on the determination of youth to reimagine a greener economy. It celebrates the boldness of young people who call inequality and injustice out. The wider view notices that the rate of inflation is less than in hundreds of developing and developed countries. It appreciates the clumsy but nonetheless careful traverse of a pandemic and the will to secure vaccines for all South African citizens. The wider view appreciates the great scientific minds in our country and the will to heed their expertise. This view captures the sunny skies, the rainfall, the richness of South Africa’s flora and fauna. It looks with pride on our constitutional democracy and celebrates the diversity of our people. Truly, the beauty around us, in spirit and in nature, is easily trivialised; but live without it in crammed, heartless cities elsewhere and you long for the heartbeat of Africa. The broader lens acknowledges public-private partnerships and NGOs that rise to meet the needs where they can, including various foundations, independent schools, private hospitals, security services and rate payers associations. Offline, South Africans are lead by captains of industry, men and women, who step up bravely within their expertise and make a difference. There are many, many persons to mention, some of whom are parents in our very community. When we look through the wider lens, we see entrepreneurial spirit, hope, opportunity and pockets of world class excellence that can serve as models here and abroad. Let’s not wear rose coloured glasses, but let’s choose a wider view

Let’s look further. 

In the weeks ahead, we will look to the future by communicating the progress of each child we serve. Parents will receive their child’s termly school report. Penned for reading are comments and results that form a teacher or therapist’s view of each little person’s school based performance at this particular time. Parents will attend meetings to learn more about these observations and to share their perspectives from home. Conversations will be candid to resolve problems, positive to celebrate growth, and goal directed. Both home and school have a common purpose: a view to a brighter future. At the start of the Bellavista journey, we just ‘begin’. We take a ‘snap shot’ and then we get to work, deploying the power of the multidisciplinary team. We can feel challenged by the gravitas of the task ahead, that being to intervene and redirect the life course of a child identified with learning difficulties. A close view of these reports highlights what to do next in therapy and in the curriculum. Progress comes episodically at times, fluctuating like an economic graph in a volatile economic climate. Parents panic when there is a score or result outside of average; an indication that their view remains very close. Teachers and therapists know that a child’s results rise and dip in this close view, but over time and with persistence, these follow an upward trend. The longer view emerges. Professionals can be trusted with their long view. Learning from Dr Jeanne Zehr, a mentor and leader in the field of cognitive education, we know that our labour with children in these years will bear fruit in their middle to senior years and onward. A past parent of a less than motivated lad in Grade Seven many years back bumped into me recently. Her thrill and mine was news of his post Bellavista School journey. Now that he is excelling in his Honours degree in finance, she wishes for all parents to trust the process. We sow seeds and they do grow. Take the long view.

The long and the short of this lesson on viewpoints is: believe; hold hope; and trust the process. Look deeper, look longer, see further. Therein lie perspectives that might just power you through whatever circumstance you are facing.

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