Socially Connecting is the New Future for Education, Success, and Progression

I ran across this great article and project called Photographer Puts Two Strangers Together For Intimate Photographs, And the Results are Surprising. The article states, “Photographer Richard Renaldi takes random people he meets on the street of New York City and asks them to pose in pictures together as if they were family members, friends or lovers. The subjects are only asked to look like they are showing a brief amount of affection, but the facial expressions and body language within the photos make it seem like these strangers not only know each other, but also share some sort of genuine bond.”

I was sincerely touched by the following video:

I started thinking about the need for human connection., and why at the end of the film, these strangers all felt intimately connected. I came to the conclusion that even when strangers are thrown together to complete a task, the need for social and human connection is enhanced.

I ran across this article about research that proves the need for social connection, particularly as it relates to education. The book review/article UCLA neuroscientist’s book explains why social connection is as important as food and shelter, states “”Being socially connected is our brain’s lifelong passion,” said Lieberman, a professor of psychology in the UCLA College of Letters and Science and a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral science at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. “It’s been baked into our operating system for tens of millions of years.””

The article continues, “Lieberman suggests that our institutions — from schools and sports teams to the military and health care institutions — would perform better if they were structured with an understanding of our social nature.

For example, Lieberman explains that middle school education could be dramatically improved by tapping the brain’s social potential. The book notes that U.S. students’ interest in school tends to wane when they reach the seventh and eighth grades — an age when humans become extremely social. “But our school system says to turn off that social brain,” Lieberman said. “We typically don’t teach history by asking what Napoleon was thinking; we teach about territorial boundaries and make it as non-social as possible. Too often we take away what makes information learnable and memorable and emphasize chronology while leaving out the motivations.

“Eighth graders’ brains want to understand the social world and the minds of other people. We can tap into what middle school students are biologically predisposed to learn, and we can do this to improve instruction in history and English, and even math and science.” Research also suggests that students are more likely to remember information when they take it in socially. Schools could apply that lesson by having older students tutor younger ones.

“If you have an eighth grader teach a sixth grader, the eighth grader’s motivation is social: to help this other student and not embarrass himself,” Lieberman said. “Getting everyone to be both teacher and learner would create enthusiasm for learning.””

After researching this topic, I found articles discussing the importance of human connection to increase happiness, and how connecting is important when networking for a job. Below are some other articles that highlight the importance of human connection and how it helps people obtain a sense of accomplishment and success:

Stories of Humanity and the Power of Connection: “What connects all of us is the ability to connect and create community, the ability to share, and the ability to tell our stories. Humans are the only ones that engage in storytelling, and the ability to share the lives and adventures of others shows us what’s possible. If we don’t invest in our own humanity-and make whole people, and encourage complex communities and rich interactions among a web of talented, creative, eager individuals-what, then, are we doing?”

Networking: The Art of Human Connection in the Internet Age: “Whether it is Zig Ziglar’s saying “You can get anything you want, if you help someone else get what they want” or NBA Coach Pat Riley, writing in The Winner Within, “You can only receive what you are willing to give,” the karmic motto of BNI is “Givers Gain.”  By giving references and authentically helping others, the giver gains references and assistance in return. The “Givers Gain” pillar of the BNI approach rests on the belief that the more you share, the more you have.””
Human connection is not something new. Most religious propensities focus on the need for “mourning with those that mourn.” More than just merely being a friend, this prophetic advice is seen today as helping people obtain success and happiness. As the internet age continues to spark wonder with the newest and best inventions, if used wrong, its interference hinders human connection, growth, stability, progression, and most importantly happiness.

To further illustrate my point, I read an article about the negative affects from people who lock themselves in their rooms and ‘withdraw’ from society completely. The article Hikikomori; Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms discusses this wide-spread phenomenon of what happens to people when they ‘withdraw’ from society, and provides the example of several people negatively affected by this issue. The article tells a story of the man, Hide, and states, “Gradually, Hide relinquished all communication with friends and eventually, his parents. To avoid seeing them he slept through the day and sat up all night, watching TV. “I had all kinds of negative emotions inside me,” he says. “The desire to go outside, anger towards society and my parents, sadness about having this condition, fear about what would happen in the future, and jealousy towards the people who were leading normal lives.” Hide had become “withdrawn” or hikikomori.””

The article also points out, “Hikikomori has entered the Oxford English Dictionary as “In Japan: abnormal avoidance of social contact. [And]…preconditions for a hikikomori-like problem are falling into place in Europe, with 50% youth unemployment in some countries, forcing young people to continue living at home.”

The Hikikomori is just one example of what can happen when someone withdraws and prevents or doesn’t obtain human connection.

In an earlier post, I discussed the possibility of providing emotional intelligence in schools, and how when teachers provide experience and try to understand students’ feelings, it increases the student’s capacity to do well particularly with their peers and educational development. Perhaps we need to take more time out to teach children by connecting with them instead of merely telling them what to do. I digress.

In follow up to all this information, I pose the following questions:

  • What human and social connection behaviors can we observe based on the example of two strangers being thrown together in the street?
  • How can we incorporate these behaviors in the way we teach children?
  • How can we incorporate this need for human and social connection in our everyday business endeavors?
  • What can history teach us about connection, and how can we implement that in our lives?
We should take a note from history and research that proves how social interaction and human connection are important for growth, and ultimately, happiness.