Have you seen this video? It’s been making the rounds on the interwebz for awhile and recently gained attention again when a high profile video-curating site shared it. Currently it has over 70 million views. Take a look–it’s only 45 seconds:
What thoughts floated through your mind as you listened to this child sing? Maybe you had some of the same ideas as the people who commented about the video on YouTube: Yeah, he’s cute and all, but isn’t it sad that this child is so fat? How could his parents feed him so much junk food? Letting a kid get that big…wow…almost seems like child abuse.
Now watch this video the young man, Sam, made a few years later:
Well. It turns out that Sam is not obese at all. He happens to have a chronic, aggressive kidney disease which results in extreme swelling in his body, and the medication he takes to control the disease often makes the swelling worse. His weight problem has nothing to do with what he’s eating (or what his mom has been feeding him.) In fact, take a look at these two photos of Sam, one before he was inflicted with the disease, and one just a few weeks later:
Isn’t it amazing how that one extra piece of information about Sam’s health completely transforms the way you view this young boy and his family? One missing link can alter your whole perspective of a situation.
I commend Sam for taking the criticism he received and turning it into a lesson on compassion and refraining from judgment. You can show the first video to your students and ask them to share their preconceived notions about Sam, then show the second one and talk about how their feelings changed after watching the second video. Here are a few teaching points you may want to guide them to understand:
- People you see on the internet are real people, with real feelings.
- The things you write on the Internet could be seen by the person you’re writing about and could be hurtful.
- Watching a 45 second YouTube video does not give anyone enough information to make a judgment about a person.
- Sometimes truths which appear to be self-evident are completely false.
- We should always show compassion to others, because we have no idea what the extent of their problems might be.
- It’s better to believe the best about others and give them the benefit of the doubt before criticizing.
What other lessons could you draw from Sam’s story? I’d love to hear about your (and your students’) reactions.
Angela Watson is the creator of The Cornerstone, a collection of print and online resources designed to make teaching more effective, efficient, and enjoyable. Angela was a classroom teacher for 11 years and currently works as an instructional coach and educational consultant based in New York City. She conducts webinars and writes books centered on her passion for helping teachers build strong classroom management and a positive mindset so they can truly enjoy their work. Angela’s website, TheCornerstoneForTeachers.com, features hundreds of free teaching articles, lesson ideas and activities, classroom photos, printable forms/posters, and more. You can follow her on Twitter at: Angela_Watson .