"The first half of life is spent mainly in finding out who we are through seeing ourselves in our interaction with others." -June Singer
Whenever I encounter students over the sumer vacation - in a store...at the county fair...here, there and everywhere - they tell me that they're having fun but can't wait to get back to school. It's not the worksheets or testing that they miss, of course, it's their friends.
This desire to socialize is a natural one for children and young adults. Interacting with peers can enhance communication skills, build confidence, and help create a positive self image.
Yet it seems like we spend a lot of our school day working counter to this need to connect. Much of our instructional time is consumed by lectures and quiet seat work. Administrators frequently equate a noisier, more interactive classroom with poor teacher management techniques.
There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of discussion in education circles, regarding the validity of cellphones and other communication devices as learning tools. Many district filters routinely block Google Documents, blogs, wikis, and social networking sites.
If we truly believe in the 21st century skill set, which emphasizes communication and collaboration, then we must determine how to use the students' need to connect with each other in an effective, meaningful way.
Rather than discourage children's sociability, let's channel it, using whatever tools are appropriate to the situation. Our millennial learners are already networked; it's up to us to show them how to utilize their skills for success in school and in life.
“I'm a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they're interested in.” -Bill Gates
“The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives.” -Anthony Robbins
"Best Friends" by Yogi