Thursday, September 25, 2014

Me and My Community

This school year, Guidance and Library Sciences will continue in the tradition of co-teaching our guidance series for our Kindergarteners through 5th graders.  (Kudos to Ms. Steim, our amazing librarian!)  We will once again, start with our leaders in grades four and five, spending four weeks talking about friendships, how to approach diversity and differences, and ways to prevent bullying in our school.  Weaving through our discussions will be threads of kindness, courage, and community.  Please visit the Lowell Guidance website for more specifics about the "Me and My Community" series.

On the issue of diversity, I learned something rather interesting this summer while taking a course called "Evolution & Cognition".  There has been some research evidence that we are not wired to be racially biased, although many of us actively categorize people by race and culture.  When shown pictures of "people" in generic shirts and different skin colors, subjects sorted and stored (remembered) the individuals based on their skin tones.  When the pictures had different soccer team uniforms instead of generic shirts, subjects remembered the "people" by their teams, or affiliation/coalition, rather than skin color.  Given the evolutionary history of human, it has always been important to our survival to be able to distinguish if someone belongs to the same "group" as us and whether they are friend or foe.

If we learn to recognize ourselves as a community, whether in the form of a classroom, a grade, a school, a town, etc., we will perhaps put down barriers embedded in perceived differences and be more inclined to be interested and respectful in the differences between us.  Seeing ourselves as a community may also help us engage in civil discourse when conflicts arise and help us multiple our acts of kindness.