“As teachers, we must find the commonalities that can help us reach students, but the differences to help  us celebrate them.”

Okay, so you are probably wondering at this point who wrote that quote and what does being a teacher have to do with me? Well, I will hesitantly admit that I wrote that sentence last week as part of a journal for my Growth and Development class. When reflecting on theories of development and the extent to which children differ in these areas, I began to ponder how this could affect me as a teacher and how I would use it to enhance learning. However, after further consideration, I found that this principle is not only applicable in the life of an educator, but the life of a human being.

Tradition has it that most of us migrate and surround ourselves with people who are similar. They may have similar looks, interests, backgrounds, habits, etc., but nevertheless, we find commonalities within ourselves and our friends. These are the topics of conversation and themes of events and outings we will have with them because it is a comfortable environment. I mean come on, being with friends should be easy and fun, right? However, by only finding similarities between ourselves and another person, are we truly developing relationships, or merely extending our phone’s contact list?

In order to understand a person and relate to him on a personal level, I feel that we must find more than common interests that join us together. Rather, we should use these interests (such as reading or music) to adventure into what makes us different. If differences are never discussed and celebrated, won’t parts of our culture eventually cease to exist? By only gathering in situations that we are familiar with, we are cheating ourselves and our neighbors of valuable learning experiences. Therefore, this week I challenge YOU to venture to a new circle of friends and discover something about your community or to gather with your closest peers and tell them something about yourself that you never have. Don’t be ashamed of what makes you different, be proud of what makes you an individual!