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Posted By: Shi Wenli on August 8, 2003
P’-Shift Thinking Works Wonders in the Classrooms
Zhangjiakou Teachers College, China 075028 Shi Wenli

Abstract: This article tries to present a common idea or means but not being commonly and correctly treated, which could help people live and work with ease and happiness. It could be applied in every field, but more efficiently in classrooms where teachers can deal with problems successfully if they know how to utilize it to educate young students. When classroom teaching changes, the world will change bit by bit, of course, to the direction in which humanity looks forward to progressing, and only then can the paradise for man be really created.
Key Words: position-shift thinking; wonders; Tactics

P’-shift (P’ = position) thinking refers to considering problems from the position of others whom you are dealing with. Sunzi, an ancient Chinese military thinker who wrote Sunzi Tactics, said in his book: “Knowing the enemy and yourself, you can fight a hundred battles and win them all.” P’-shift thinking is useful for making strategic plan in time of war since a commander needs to know what his enemy is thinking and doing about, as well as in time of peace when one needs to know what other people’s opinion are about his ideas and activities. If Abraham Lincoln had not considered problems form the position of the blacks, there wouldn’t have been Emancipation Proclamation, neither had there been the integrated United States, neither the most powerful country of the world today. During the World War II, if the Americans had a little known about Japanese’s thinking and action before the dark day of Dec.12th,1941, there would not have been the tragedy of Pearl Harbor Incident. If Clinton’s government had been a little conscious of the danger the Americans were facing in 2001, the 9.11 Tragedy could have been avoided at much less cost, and the Bush’s government would have spared much trouble and embarrassed conditions today.
P’-shift thinking is a way of thought as well as means used to solve problems. It can be applied in many fields in today’s world. If a judge could regard cases from the positions of both the plaintiff and the accused now and then, there would be much fair and little wrong done in court; if a policeman could be thoughtful of every detail of the public, there would be more peace and comfort for society; if a businessman who is struggling against the mighty tides of competition could consider problems from the position of his customers and business rivals, he would stand firmly coping with the most serious situation or crisis. It is similar to managing a department store or a factory----an organization as big as a country, or as small as a family. Anyone anywhere who could occasionally consider problems from the positions of others around would govern safely as well as successfully. By p’-shift thinking, most problems could be solved even if the bothersome ones like protection of the earth environment. While mankind regards wild life as part of nature like man itself and takes proper measures during its exploration, development and expansion, the earth should appear more beautiful.
So it is necessary for all countries and large companies to have their public relations departments or organizations which are in charge of dealing with such problems. Here I’d like to present a simple but often neglected fact that teachers who are in more favorable positions than their students, both in experience and knowledge, are likely to ignore the problems their pupils or students are facing, so there are complaints from unsatisfied learners and parents when learning hasn’t been done well enough. If a teacher could understand and get to know well his pupils’ interests and needs, there could be no more excess homework for the young learners, and teaching as well as learning would be conducted more easily and happily.
P’-shift thinking could help a teacher to be more sympathetic and take better care of students who need it very much during their learning. It does not take much effort for a teacher to do so if he could recall the path along which he trudged when he was young. Of course, knowing as much as one can about their psychological background will add ease and smoothness to the operation of teaching skills, but it is the teacher’s attitude that plays the most dominant part in learning. Every difficulty in the way of studying may seem to be impassable barrier to some learners, but a timely hand given by the teacher may prevent them from being so worried or so troubled, thus enabling them to learn with ease and confidence.
P’-shift thinking will help to increase the agreeable and pleasant relationship between the teacher and the learners, which affects learning directly and positively. The idea has already been proven by quite a few teachers and experts who claim that learners could do better when they are in a safe and peaceful climate. Any anxiety and restlessness will reduce the effect of learning activity, which both teachers and learners should try to avoid.
P’-shift thinking could also help promote trust and respect between the teacher and learners. That is essential for learners to absorb knowledge and learn skills. Such principle is as clear as day to understand since no one, especially children, would like to learn from a person who is not liked, nor trusted nor respected. That is to say, when the teacher takes the learners’ learning manners and attitudes into account and considers problems from their position, he would regard them not only as learners but as human individuals, who have their own character and interests, and need to be respected and trusted, just as the teacher does. If both teachers and learners realize it is important to be trusted and respected during the interaction of teaching and learning activities, neither will spoil favorable chances of impressing on the other. By these means, the teacher may appear more capable and the learners much cleverer, because the learners’ potential mental power would be fully aroused and applied in the learning process.
Some people might think if one is always considering problems from the position of others, he would get lost in the crowd, and there would be no excitement and variety in his life. This is impossible, for no one can be changed completely into another in personality unless he is mentally ill; for another reason, it is not practical to think that a person could spend all his time concerning himself about the others’ affairs without sensing his own. That idea wound be against the laws of nature. We persist in the opinion that considering problems from others’ position here and there, especially for a teacher, is in an effort to persuade people to learn a useful skill for living along well with other people who may be thoughtful and helpful. The fact is that some people know little about others’ concerns, needs and interests. It is very hard for them to think that there are other persons around them on this small earth, sharing the same sun and air together with them. So there are tragedies and misfortunes occurring not only because of natural disasters but also because of humanity itself, from whom prejudice, hatred and other evil ideas have been produced. Through p’-shift thinking, prejudice could become agreement and mutual understanding; hatred could be melted and replaced by love and mutual care. There are no more reasons for humans to live on a quarrelsome and turbulent earth.
The teacher’s p’-shift thinking attitude can also help learners to form the habit of showing concern and care for others. Supposing that learners have firstly learned how to consider problems from the positions of their parents, their teachers or their companions in the classroom, they will do much better in their lessons and duties. Then these learners will become politicians, judges, policemen, businessmen, managers­ and every kind of profession holders in all walks of life; almost all will become parents, and some may become teachers when they grow up, and surely they will teach their youngsters in a similar way that their teacher did. Therefore, year after year, one generation after another, wonders will be worked: A beautiful, peaceful earth will be presented to the world where there is no quarrelling, no conflicts, no murders but only happiness, peace and friendship between people, groups and nations. In this way, paradise can really be created.

(There are no more quotations and references except those noted in the paper .)
Any views on this subject are welcomed.

About the Author
Name: Shi Wenli
Certificate: lecturer, English Department, Zhangjiakou Teachers College
Address: English Department, Zhangjiakou Teachers College,
No.25th,5.1 Road, Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province,
the People’s Republic of China, 075028
Postal Code: 075028
Office Tel: 86-0313-2052889
Home Tel: 86-0313-2034393
E-mail: shi_wenli@yahoo.com.cn

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