November 30, 2006

I Don’t Think My Opinions Are Stupid

I have recently started a blogging project with my students, and it has been a huge success. I don’t want to link this blog with my school one because I don’t think it is a good idea to cross those two paths, however I do want to share this with you.

We are currently reading Anne Frank and the kids are doing some amazing writing, self-reflecting, and commenting on each other’s work. In order to foster a community of writers, I have told them that I will complete every writing assignment that I assign them.

The latest post was to write a reflection on a variety of quotes I had chosen from the text. Here is the assignment:

I don’t think my opinions are stupid and others do; so it is better to keep them to myself. (page 102)

What are your thoughts about sharing opinions? Do you agree with Anne, that it is best to keep your opinions to yourself because no one will understand them, or is important to share them nonetheless? Read page 163 before starting this post.

1. Write a letter to Anne explaining to her whether you agree or disagree with her. Please explain your answer.

2. Write a post persuading your readers that your opinions are important, and why you refuse to keep them to yourself.

I was quite pleased with my response:

Dear Anne,

I know it must be difficult for you to discuss your thoughts and ideas with people who do not understand you, or worse people who berate and belittle you, but I do not think it is a good idea to bottle up your opinions. I don’t think your views are stupid, and even if they were you have a right to share and express them with the world.

Everybody on earth has his or her own opinion. That is what makes life so appealing. The fact that we can debate or argue, or compromise and exchange our thoughts with others is one of the most incredible aspects of living. I think we run into trouble when we cling to our opinions and fail to see that other people may disagree with us. This ultimately leads to conflict because we refuse to let other people share their thoughts.

Opinions change as people change. As a young girl, you have an outlook on life that will be dramatically different in five years, ten years, or twenty years. It is important, however, that at every interval in your life you examine and scrutinize your thoughts. Where do they come from? How are they influenced? How are you changing? This dissection of your beliefs is in the end how you will grow. This is education.

I have gone off track a bit so let me get back to my point. If you have opinions, it is important to share them, because once they are out in the world they will be open for discussion. You can then alter and adapt them to fit you better. If on the other hand, you only keep your opinions to yourself, or worse only share them with people who agree with you, then they will never evolve. They will become stale and outdated.

It can be frustrating to view the world in a certain way and have everyone you know, tell you that you are wrong. It can seem attractive to simply not share your thoughts with anyone, because they just don’t understand you. But you are only doing yourself a disservice if you keep all your thoughts inside.

If everyone decided to keep their opinions to themselves because they were afraid of disagreements than where would we be? We wouldn’t learn anything, because knowledge comes from the exchange of ideas. Through collaboration, comprise and cooperation we reshape the world into a better place. We do not hoard our ideas or opinions but display them publicly and defend them when necessary and alter them if need be.

We must not be rigid! Your mind is fluid and in flux and works best when it is open and active. So do not barricade yourself behind a wall of your own beliefs. Allow them to be malleable, and you will see that there are others out there who share your vision. We are glad that you have opened up your heart to us with your diary, and we are learning from you everyday. If you had not shared the opinions of a beautiful young girl, where would we be today? What would we have learned? How were we to grow?


  1. How old are your students? Assuming you didn't edit the response before it was posted, the grammar and syntax of that post stacks up disturbingly well against what I see in my line of education.

  2. I am not sure if your comment was a jab at my writing skills or a misunderstanding, but I will try and clarify both points now. To answer your questions, my students are in the eighth grade, but this Dear Anne piece was written by me in an attempt to build solidarity with my students.

    I apologize if the grammar and syntax are at a sub-par level; I have been extremely busy lately, and to be honest the piece was meant to be a first draft. I am not sure at which level you teach, but it looks like I may be at that level in your eyes. Alas what can I do? Thanks for reading despite the low level of material.

  3. What an amazing idea, BZ! More teachers should encourage their students in this manner (completing assignments of this nature alongside of their students). It's the perfect way to demonstrate how assignments in the classroom are not simply irrelevant, pointless assignments but rather points at which one can connect into the world around them.

    On another note though, great response. While I personally did not enjoy the Diary of Anne Frank as many did, she was a remarkable individual with a lot of important things to say.

  4. Anonymous9:16 AM

    I have just started blogging in my own classroom with the play version of this text. Do you have any interest in our students blogging back and forth with each other? A pen sort of pen pal program of sorts. My students are seventh graders and definitely have their challenges when it comes to writing but I'm looking to expand their knowledge. Let me know. My blog site is

  5. I had just written out a lengthy reply, and only now did I realize what my initial problem was: I thought that the response to the prompt was from one of your actual students, not by you yourself. That would explain why it sounds like a college-educated author. My earlier reaction was "I thought he was teaching schoolchildren--why do they sound like college grads?" It wasn't meant as a jab at all.

  6. Thanks for the clarification. no offense taken. But you would be surprised at the level at which some of these kids write.