Step In–Step Out–Step Back: Project Zero Global Thinking Routine
A Project Zero "Global Thinking" routine to support responsible perspective-taking. This routine invites learners to take other people’s perspectives, recognize that understanding others is an ongoing process, and understand that our efforts to take perspective can reveal as much about ourselves as they can about the people we are seeking to understand. Asks students: “Step In: What do you think this person might feel, believe, know, or experience?”, “Step Out: What would you like or need to learn to understand this person’s perspective better?”, and “Step Back: What do you notice about your own perspective and what it takes to take somebody else’s?”
STEP IN–STEP OUT–STEP BACK
A routine to support responsible perspective-taking
Ask students to choose a person or agent in the situation you are examining, then ask:
1. Step In: What do you think this person might feel, believe, know, or experience?
2. Step Out: What would you like or need to learn to understand this person’s perspective better?
3. Step Back: What do you notice about your own perspective and what it takes to take somebody else’s?”
Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?
This routine invites learners to take other people’s perspectives (e.g., religious, linguistic, cultural, class, generational), recognize that understanding others is an ongoing, often uncertain process, and understand that our efforts to take perspective can reveal as much about ourselves as they can about the people we are seeking to understand.
Application: When and where can it be used?
This routine can be adapted to a broad range of topics, from examining the perspectives of agents in a story, a historical event, or a contemporary news article, to considering non-human perspectives such as species in an ecosystem, or collective perspectives such as interest groups in a given conflict. You may choose an image, video, story, or classroom incident to ground students’ thinking.
Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?
In “step-in,” make sure learners understand they are reasoning with the information they have, which is always limited. You may point to the speculative nature of their interpretations. In “step-out,” invite learners to see that there is more to understanding another person than the first impression they construct. As they share their views, students may detect stereotypes in their own initial thinking and feel uneasy about “having been wrong” in their guess. It is important to normalize the fact that we all have first impressions of others and others have them of us, and the importance of committing to understanding other persons’ perspectives beyond initial assumptions. Under “step back,” learners may explore how prior knowledge, cultural, or linguistic perspectives inform or obscure their interpretation. This routine lends itself to small groups. You may invite students to write their responses to each question individually on separate Post-its first and then share.
Use Rights Links: Global Thinking by Project Zero is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Educational Use: Guided questions, Inquiry, Visual/Spatial, Discussion/Debate
Learning Resource Type: None
Educational Role: teacher
Time required: 1 hr
Interactivity Type: Active
Accessibility Feature: none
Accessibility Hazard: noFlashingHazard, noMotionSimulationHazard, noSoundHazard
Accessibility Control: None
Publisher: Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access