June 25, 2021

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How Often Do You Read, Watch or Listen to Things Outside of Your Comfort Zone?

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Four teachers who work with The Learning Network recently challenged their students to do just that. Here are some examples of what these teenagers chose:

Hattie D., Hewitt-Trussville High School, Trussville, Ala.

In my comfort zone: “Asian-Americans Are Scared for a Reason

Outside my comfort zone: “UConn-Baylor: Was It a Foul?

If someone were to ask me how I felt about Anti Asian-American violence, I would have a lot to say, whereas if someone asked me how I felt about the play with UConn-Baylor, I would have no idea what they were talking about and have no interest in finding out.

Which is probably why I was so shocked when the basketball article was fairly interesting to read. Sure, I didn’t quite understand all of the complex sports terminology that was strewn throughout the article, but I understood that the players were rightfully outraged by the lack of call for what seemed like an obvious foul. I don’t think I’ll ever understand how people can get so worked up over just a game, or how people can make millions of dollars for playing said game, but I know that others are passionate about it. I understand passion. It drives people to stand up for what they think is worthy of fighting for, and some may think that a foul play in basketball is what they have to stand up for.

Nora W., Central High School, La Crosse, Wis.

In my comfort zone: “Olivia Rodrigo’s ‘Drivers License’ Hit No. 1 in a Week. Here’s How

The day “Driver’s License” was released it completely blew up on TikTok, and my For You page was filled with videos of people listening and reacting to it. While I was reading the article, I knew this song was breaking records left and right, but I had no idea it had gone worldwide.

Outside my comfort zone: “Ancient Remains in Peru Reveal Young, Female Big-Game Hunter

Ever since I’ve been a kid, whenever I watched a movie or documentary about past civilizations the hunters were always depicted as male and the gatherers, female. I just really appreciate the fact there is more information to be uncovered that could prove women and men had somewhat equal roles.

Now we challenge you to do the same:

  • Go to the NYTimes.com home page, or to any of the individual sections. Or use the search bar to put in a subject you like reading about.

  • Find an article, video, image, podcast or graphic that is immediately interesting to you because it is on a topic you know or care about, or are somehow connected to already.

  • Now take a second look. Find an article, video, image, podcast or graphic that is outside your usual comfort zone, yet still seems potentially interesting.

  • Read — or watch or listen to — them both. What happened?

Students, take the challenge above, then tell us:

  • What did you find in The Times that was immediately interesting? Why? Did you find the piece worthwhile? Why or why not?

  • What did you find in The Times that was a stretch for you and outside your usual interests? What happened when you read — or watched or listened to — it? Did you find the piece worthwhile? Why or why not?

  • How did this experience mirror the way you usually choose what to read, watch or listen to? Did you enjoy being pushed to experience something different than usual? Why or why not?

  • When, outside of this challenge, can you remember reading, watching or listening to something that is different from your usual? What encouraged you to do this? What happened as a result?

If you enjoyed doing this exercise, you might also enjoy our Summer Reading Contest. For 10 weeks, from June 11 through Aug. 19, you’re invited to tell us what you’re reading in The Times and why. Learn more here.


About Student Opinion

Find all of our Student Opinion questions in this column.
Have an idea for a Student Opinion question? Tell us about it.
Learn more about how to use our free daily writing prompts for remote learning.

Students 13 and older in the United States and the United Kingdom, and 16 and older elsewhere, are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

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