Students have consistently asked me how to form a simple construct for assessing a method of experimentation be the experiment about academic work, or events that take place beyond the classroom. While no one has any exact or foolproof “method” for assessing if any action is truly “safe,” the “why not” principle offers a legitimate way to self reflect before taking action– note: in emergency actions, this principle also will mean trusting one’s gut, as the more one indulges in self reflection, the stronger the “gut reaction” will be to help one recognize adverse situation when they materialize.
This method was both taught and demonstrated to me way back in my own childhood- it meant simply asking oneself, “why not” then pausing to write down or mentally list the reasons that something might be a “bad idea.” And if one came up with more than two listings in the negative column- then don’t do it- especially if it might potentially hurt others. Today this might even qualify as my “life lessons on empathy” since we are reworking so much that many an “old school” educator used to consider “compulsory knowledge,” the type that was expressed beginning in pre-school and reiterated throughout one’s academic career.
The “why not” principle also is often faster than listing all the “whys.” Plus students have shared that it is less ambiguous- less likely to be contorted by selfish pursuits. Give it a try- “why not?”