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Crumpled paper

September 26, 2014

A former student let me know that I should share the story of crumpled paper with my new classes. It’s usually a story that I tell in response to a put down or negative comment, but so far this term the tone has been pretty positive in class. I am telling the story proactively.

Here’s a fresh blank sheet of paper. Everyone starts off life like this, clean, fresh, and unmarked. IMG_9005.JPG
In some respects we start each day like this too.

However, we will sometimes encounter people throughout the day who will say mean and hurtful things like “I don’t want _________ to be in our group” or “Did you see what ____________ was wearing” or “You are (a loser/ugly/stupid)”. Each one of these comments will start to crumple your fresh clean paper.

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As we go through our day, we can sometimes get quite crumpled!

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Some people realize that their words have done some damage, and they try to smooth things out by saying “I was just joking” or “no offense”, but no matter how much you try, it’s impossible to get the paper smooth again.

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It’s hard to stick up for yourself when hurtful comments are being made. “You’re hurting my feelings” is not so easy to say. We sometimes find it easier to talk about crumpling paper…”Don’t crumple my paper” or even sticking up for the other people around us by saying “Don’t crumple their paper”. It’s become a bit of a code word in my classes over the years, and I was so happy to know that my former student remembered the story, and asked for it to be passed on to my new classes.

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