13 August, 2016
In classroom with diverse students, it is important that students acknowledge the differences but makes sure that this does not hinder their interaction.
How we relate socially is a big contributor to happiness and productivity. What contributes directly to the feeling of connectedness and acceptance is the understanding that, on some very core human levels, we are more similar than we may know. At the same time, we are also different; and not only is that OK, but it’s also something to respect and even honor.
In The Whole-Brain Child, Drs. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson explain, “Just as its many different parts are made to work together, each individual brain is made to relate with the brain of each person we interact with.” They use the phrase “interpersonal integration” to present the process of honoring and nurturing our differences while nurturing our connections with one another.
As modern technology builds an ever more connected world, we are all becoming more interdependent. For students to thrive with 21st century skills, it can no longer be an “us vs. them” conversation. Universal traits are necessary to recognize. This is true in our own back yard right now with issues like bullying, and equally significant as students enter a more global workplace later in life. If they are taught from a young age that, at their core, people everywhere share a desire to be loved, to belong, to matter and to be respected, they will have a basis for better and more compassionate relationships. Further, their acceptance of others will increase as they learn that it’s a good thing there are many differences in people (such as hair color, eye color, type of food or sports we prefer, holidays we celebrate, etc.). The benefits of teaching students that, now more than ever, it’s time to honor our differences while acknowledging our shared humanity include:
- An understanding that they are never alone in their feelings, because all humans are “So Similar” at our core
- Promoting diversity consciousness so they are less resistant to or afraid of people who are different
- Fostering the values of cooperation and teamwork, as a student in a classroom and a citizen of the world
Happiness, Teamwork and Productivity
On the subject of teamwork, happiness is a vital gain in creating successful group activities. Because happiness, like all emotions, is contagious, it can infuse a group, a class, or even an entire school community. Studies of sports teams have identified that even “one happy player was enough to infect the mood of the entire team, and that the happier the team was, the better they played.” By focusing on positivity, recognizing our similarities, and honoring our differences, we set the stage for kids to thrive in a myriad of settings.