The article lists out a lot of the reasons, and I encourage you to read it, but this part I found to be very interesting because it reminded me of things I’ve done in some adult learning situations:
“Way and her colleagues created “The Listening Project,” which aims to build connections among seventh-graders in New York City’s public schools.
Under the program, students are trained to interview their peers to “enhance listening, challenge stereotypes, build relationships, and foster a greater sense of humanity,” according to a press release.
“As they’re being trained, what I’m really doing is nurturing their natural capacities to connect,” Way said, noting that America’s education system typically doesn’t foster these types of skills.”
If you’ve ever taken a class, or workshop, on professional networking, there’s a good chance you’ve had to do something like this. The one I remember most vividly was a class where we had to talk to another person for 15 minutes, and then be able to answer some basic question about each other. It forced you to listen to the other person, learn their name, what they did, why they were in class, etc. The point being that if you wanted to create connection with this person professionally, you needed to know something about them, and be able to offer them something before you could go about expecting them to offer something to you.
That’s not something you get necessarily from social media or one-way relationships. It’s a lost skill in a lot of ways. But, what research is constantly showing us is the importance of connection when it comes to mental health. That inability to connect is fueling some, not all, of the explosion of mental health issues in society. It’s something that can be learned, and I am encouraged that there are some folks looking at how to introduce it to kids, as well as adults.