Categorization is a basic human urge. It makes things easier for us to process and handle. We sort good apples from the bad ones, yellow from the red ones, pockmarked from the lined ones. Division is our sieve from which we filter reality. If we take a closer look at our society, what is it that we are going to find? Not a jumbled and confusing mass of multi-minded beings, but very neatly drawn classes and castes under which difference has been settled since times immemorial.
Chaos Frightens Us, So We Order It. That Is What We Do.
Similarly, a school is a living and breathing microcosm of society. Where there are classes in society, there are cliques in schools. In one corner, you will find the ‘lab-coats,’ the super-intelligent group of geeks and science nerds, top of their class and comic-hoarders. In the next niche, you will see the uber-macho ‘jocks’, more muscle than brains. Then, there are the ‘girly-girls’, queens and fashion-divas, for whom looks are more important than books. ‘Goths’ are also present, hovering around shadowy corners in their black overalls. Moreover, the ‘weird’ unpopular lot who nobody cares to remember. The list goes on. It is the stuff of movies. What does it entail?
It shows that stereotyping is essentially human. It leads to the creation of lop-sided yet eternal labels that are set deep in the minds of those who do the labeling, and of those who they tend to label. Its perpetually renewing conditioning that has many negative implications, especially in the education sphere. Have you ever seen nerds switch places with school jocks, patrolling hallways wearing especially customized varsity jackets? Have you ever happened to witness school jocks spending more time in the science lab? I am sure you have not because that is how circumstances condition them to behave, all thanks to the clique culture. Even teachers’ attitude reinforces the segregating culture to an extent. In a fully diverse classroom, a teacher has divided and sometimes even biased at times. It would go in favor of those who are actually listening to what they have been teaching, and against those who do not even care to lend an ear. That is a natural human instinct, and no matter how hard the teachers try, differentiating frames deeply ingrained in their minds, dictate their behavior. That is how the clique culture works.
Cliques encase students in tight, suffocating boxes. They prevent students’ mental growth, mutual co-existence, and expansion of perspectives. They place a heavy toll on students’ productivity. They put forth into the future not humble and congenial leaders, but a blinkered and class-focused lot.
This begs the question: Is there a way to think outside this clique box? Is there a mean through which students could remove the labels set on them and be comfortable in their own skin? Is there a chance that they could fly harmoniously, hand-in-hand, into the future?
I believe there is, and technology is its name. Following are the ways technology opens paradigms and promotes healthy student behavior:
Cliques persist because student bodies hesitate to venture outside their circles and interact with each other. Satisfied with what the society feeds them, they do not question anything but assume a mere shadow as the ultimate truth. Not only do they remain unacquainted with the ‘real’ self of others, but they also do not even know themselves in the truest sense of the word.
Therefore, the first step in bridging the clique gap is finding one’s lost self, and then bringing it to the forefront. This is where technology helps a lot. By introducing multiple media for self-expression inside a classroom, technology enables students from across different cliques to find their own, unique, and original voice. To remove their masks and freely express themselves via words (using Evernote), images (using Storify), videos (using Pixorial), or even comic strips (using Storyboard that), etc. To let others know that they are more than what the society deems them to be. Technology inside a classroom empowers self-conscious students to be comfortable in their own skins, using personalized tablets, because confidence is the key that unlocks productivity. All you need is a strong internet connection that helps you stay connected to your fellows. So, if you are looking for a high-speed internet service, then click here and learn about all the available options in your area.
Once the students are fully aware of their own capabilities, hitherto smeared by the clique labels, they will become curious about whether the other person is more than just a tag too. Here, the technology can water the seed of explorative interaction. With rounding-up, activities like the following, arranged in a classroom, a cross-clique collaboration becomes more than just a dream. It wears the shape of reality.
Usually, students sit in clique-oriented groups inside a classroom, and more often than not, there is friction between the groups. However, there is a way to close the gaping chasm between them, i.e. through educative technology. With brainstorming, apps like Creately, SpiderScribe, and ChartTool, etc., students can be encouraged to mix up and talk about ideas in a creative way, all the while technologically mapping the flow of the conversation. Even a simple topic can have unique angles and point of views, provided by the students because of mutual interaction.
Students from one clique are reluctant to work with those of another on classroom projects. However, technology like Keypals can bring them together. Once paired, they can communicate and share their original perspectives using this pen-pal tech. Especially when they are motivated to go outside and do fieldwork, they can actually get to know each other, develop their ideas in mutual consonance, and then upload their findings on the online classroom platform like Shutterfly. This will inspire others to cross their clique borders and do an open talk-session.
Let us focus on studies now, and see how technology succeeds in bringing students together on an authentic plane, in this case. Today’s classrooms are student-centric, and peer reviewing is a common practice, teachers across the world employ. When advanced educative technology, like My Reviewers or Clickers, etc. is introduced into this formula, and then a classroom becomes a highly interactive digital environment. Students assess each other’s original insights and inputs, and in this way know each other’s real caliber.
Another technologically operated maneuver that can open clique-bound students’ minds about overthrowing tags and mingling up is the one that allows communication with a global village. Using Skype or Glovico inside a classroom, students can see how people across the world live in their native setups, and interact with them to get a broader spectrum of views disregarding stereotyping, etc. This is how they will finally be able to think outside the box, learn to go beyond their restricting concepts, and grow harmoniously with each other.
Clique culture might have generational value, but now is the time of technology, which is a great equalizer.