Working as I do at Reform Jewish day school there’s a phenomenon I encounter pretty frequently. I’ve started calling it “the perspective gap.” The perspective gap exists whenever two perspectives are so vastly different that the two holders of those perspectives can’t see what the other person sees.
Why has working at a Reform Jewish day school led to my experiencing this phenomenon so acutely? Because the perspective of those who are outside of my school is so vastly different from my perspective as an insider. Try as I might, I have come to realize that it is virtually impossible to make outsiders see The Davis Academy that I see. My insider perspective is too nuanced, rich, idiosyncratic, steeped in personal meaning, and dynamic to possibly share with someone who isn’t themselves an insider (be it a faculty member, parent, grandparent, or student). The view from the outside and the view from the inside are totally different. Enter “the perspective gap.”
Fellow insiders may have a different perspective on The Davis Academy than I do, but it’s generally not so vastly different that the perspective gap comes into play.
The perspective gap can and does exist in all areas. Think of the marriages that look perfect from the outside but are falling to pieces on the inside. Think about the people who, from the outside, seem to have it all together, but have personal struggles and demons that we seldom detect. And think about those that we are quite to judge and dismiss, who if only we could see the world through their eyes or read their thoughts, we might find a real connection.
The perspective gap is real. And those of us who are passionate insiders do well to consider how we can effectively communicate across it when we are trying to bring outsiders into our ranks.