2. The homogenous interactions limited to their own age group.
I mention this one in a previous post. It used to be that students attended a one-room schoolhouse. While there are some downsides to this environment, one of the upsides is that they were forced to interact all the time with younger kids and adults older than they were. This kind of social context deepens people skills and respect for others. Let’s face it. Our emotional intelligence develops when we must interface with people unlike us; when we must exchange ideas with other generations and perspectives. With the popularization of the highs school in the early 20th century, things began to change. Today, students are able to spend a large portion of their day interacting in a homogeneous silo of peers. More than a third of their day is connecting with friends through texts, on Facebook or watching videos of each other. This is where they get their input. No longer do they receive their guidance from mentors like Socrates, Solomon or even Emerson. It is from their friends who are also 17-years-old. This “social silo” actually damages their ability to relate to outsiders and deepen their relational skills. We must find a way to expand their network and consequently, their emotional intelligence.
What if adults worked with young people to intentionally place them in social contexts that were unfamiliar? Whether you’re a parent or a staff person on a campus, why not challenge students to host parties and serve adults as guests? This would enable them to break out of their comfort zones, and use language outside of their text slang. Why not challenge young people to choose issues they have a passion for and seek out older mentors who could encourage and advise them as they pursue involvement in those issues. I love organizations that establish mutual or reverse mentoring relationships where young and old could connect, and add value to the other in an area of their strength. Everyone matures.
For my previous and first concern, click here.