What Happens When We Don’t Connect

ipad01 011What Happens When We Don’t Connect

When discussing how the brain is “wired,” the references usually involve violence, greed, and self-interest. Jeremy Rikfin offers a different perspective in this RSA Animation Lecture where he offers a more primal characteristic of our humanity: the need to belong. In outlining this theory, he provides 4 fundamental human needs that:

4 Primary Human Drives

  1. Sociability
  2. Attachment
  3. Affection
  4. Companionship

These needs align very neatly with what connectivity, social learning, and even pop social media platforms provide. This would imply that the need to selfie, like, and check-in, align yourself with certain brands, and other tech-habits may not be so much the result of weakness and addiction, but rather a serendipitous alignment between the way you’re wired and the talent of prevailing technology.

In the video, Rifkin focuses on the idea of empathy–examples, what it means, etc.–and finishes his talk offering another theory about what happens when these needs to connect, relate to, and belong are repressed. That is, when the primary drives fails, the following drives take over.

4 Secondary Human Drives

  1. Narcissism
  2. Materialism
  3. Violence
  4. Aggression

10 Ways To Help Students Connect With The World Around Them

It would make sense that as technology becomes more integrated, more accessible to all socioeconomic classes, and “smarter” itself, those connections will only deepen as we move from a “me society” to a “we society.” Rikfin’s theory says that it’s one or the other–we either connect, relate to, and belong we devolve into selfishness, exploitation, and greed. And this isn’t a simple moral crossroads, but a matter of neurology.

This places social media platforms like twitter, facebook, and instagram on a fine line, teetering back and forth between connectivity and narcissism. More immediately for educators, it illuminates our need to create empathetic learning experiences that connect learners for deeply human purposes. The greater the dysfunction, the greater the need to belong.

1. Connect students through function and purpose, not technology and gadgets

2. Use technology to help students establish a context for themselves

3. Model for students how to relate to others who are different–that think, look, and act different than what they’re accustomed to

4. Help students clarify for themselves who and what they’re connected to–the obvious and less obvious

5. Use place-based education and project-based learning to help students make new connections to people, places, and ideas outside of the curriculum map

6. Help students use social media for recreation, knowledge, and meaning

7. Offer digital citizenship strategies like “THINK!”

8. Encourage students to identify multiple “citizenships” they belong to, both locally and digitally

9. Have students concept map their own interdependence in a given context (home, family, hobby, neighborhood, classroom, content area, etc.)

10. Assist students in identifying authentic roles in a community they care about. To be “authentic,” the roles should naturally exist, and allow a visible void when left unfilled, providing the student with a meaningful role that matters.

What Happens When We Don’t Connect; 10 Ways To Help Students Connect With The World Around Them; adapted image attribution flickr user flickeringbrad


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