They other day in class, I showed 2 short videos.
I asked students which video they wanted to watch out of 3. They chose “The Day Beyonce Turned Black.”, which to me is a hilarious video about white privilege and fear of losing that privilege.
After students talked about their reactions to the video  my in-class tutor asked them if they knew why some people were upset after Bruno Mars & Beyonce’s Superbowl 2016 performance. We watched that next and talked about the military-type costumes and marching into “formation.”
At one point during our discussion, one student said, “You’re overthinking it.”
I deflated. “You’re overthinking it” is the last thing I wanted to hear.  My goal is to get students to think.  I fear a world where people blindly accept what is being told or shown to them, and my way of contributing to the world is to help teach people we don’t have to live that way.
Before I could stop myself, I  snapped back, “Is it possible to overthink things? Is there such thing as under-thinking or an appropriate amount of thinking?”
Thank goodness the student only stopped sharing for a second; I didn’t want to shut him down.  Soon others chimed in and said they agreed.  People overthink things.  They create unnecessary drama.
So while my goal is to get students to think about the world around them, a more important practice I used that day is I listened to them. I value who they are and where they are in their learning. I want to know what they really think–not what they think I want to hear.
In the future, I’ll ask them what they mean by overthinking, why they don’t like it, and what ways they think are best to deal with others’ overthinking. I’ll tell them my concerns and see how they respond to those. Rather than trying to change their minds, I’ll listen to their perspective to gain understanding and to see if I may want to change mine.
What do you think? Is there such thing as overthinking, under-thinking or just-the-right-amount-of thinking? What are the positives and/or dangers of each? What is the role of education? To help students learn new skills? To make sure they value those skills? To teach students what it means to listen and how to allow oneself to be influenced if we so choose?
Peace Out (and In),
Others’ posts about overthinking: