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What is Normal?

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What is Normal?

This question was recently posed to Richland’s Grade 5 class, and ignited a passionate conversation about societal norms, and how ‘normal’ is understood and defined. Informing their opinions was their recent experience at Variety Village, where they engaged in challenging sports activities designed for the physically challenged. This enlightening experience, coupled with their own insights, lead to an emotional reflection on the very concept of ‘normal’.

The image below captures their conversation, and you can see the depth of comments and reflections on the topic as it unfolded.
During the conversation, the Oxford Dictionary definition of ‘normal’ was examined. Here it is:

normal
Pronunciation: /ˈnɔːm(ə)l/
Definition of normal
adjective
1conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected:
it’s quite normal for puppies to bolt their food
normal working hours
(of a person) free from physical or mental disorders:
until her accident Louise had been a perfectly normal little girl
many previously normal people exhibit psychotic symptoms after a few nights without sleep

The example cited caused much controversy among the students, even moving some to tears. They were not in agreement with its sentiment, and have decided to challenge Oxford on their definition by presenting a revised definition of ‘normal’ for the language experts to consider.

Powerful learning experiences like this are an example of the importance of thoughtful dialogue and asking the right questions. These opinions and values shape who were are as people. In the words of one of our Grade 5 students:

“I would never have considered the dictionary’s definition to be wrong if we had not had this conversation.”

Richland

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