The Connected Classroom
Natural connections with those we love, purposeful contribution and passionate experiences are intrinsically rewarding. Throughout the millennia this has been nature’s way to bring emotional balance and health to our lives. In an isolating modern world of social media, gaming, busy lifestyles, and cultural pressures to be something they are not, children just don’t know what healthy authentic connection looks like. This makes it almost a certainty that they don’t know how it feels. Unfortunately for the modern child the absence of authentic healthy connections makes attachments to unhealthy ones almost a certainty.
Connection is the “In Vogue” dialogue of progressive educators and there is a general consensus that it significantly improves student learning, emotional wellness, and reduces choices that lead to unhealthy behaviors. Nonetheless, anxiety remains on the rise as students come to school with attachments to fear, anger or beliefs of “less than”. A competitive curriculum driven educational system only exacerbates their anxious experience as they are sorted into winners and losers. The problem is compounded by recent discoveries in neuroscience that suggest biochemical payoffs associated with these anxious attachments may be addictive in nature.
The Connected Classroom is guided by a new pedagogical model and philosophy inspired by the work of John Montgomery and Todd Ritchey. Their book “The Answer Model- a new path to healing”, examines the addictive forces that drive individuals towards deepening disconnected states, chronic dysfunction and ultimately, emotional pain. They suggest that it is possible to develop unconscious biochemical addictions to stress hormones that are triggered by anxious emotional states. All that is needed for a payoff is a little or a lot of unnecessary drama. Teachers have always intuitively known that children get something out of dysfunctional behaviors like bullying, conflict, procrastination or poor me attitudes. Current neuroscience backs that up.
This understanding is a key differentiator in the Connected Classroom because it allows teachers to see these chronic unhealthy beliefs and behaviors for what they really are- an unconscious drive for unhealthy emotional payoffs. Teachers can implement strategies to break the cycle of emotional addictions and avoid emotional control dramas that feed all addictions. Most importantly, they can see children as something greater than their dysfunction.
Connection is nature’s way to reduce anxiety and rebalance. Current “fix it” approaches are complex, demand significant resources and often feel beyond the scope of what teachers and schools can do. Connection is nature’s multipurpose tool for emotional wellness and health that can affect significant positive change in all aspects of a child’s life. It is a simple but powerful solution for complex issues in an even more complicated world.
Teachers know that connection is important. What is missing is a practical approach that goes beyond talk and respects the challenge disconnection and emotional addiction bring to the classroom. The Connected Classroom educational model meets this challenge with five practical steps to build a new connected learning structure. It is complemented by an innovative lesson plan template that makes it easy for teachers to integrate healthy connections into everyday curricular lessons.
The competitive curriculum driven education system is a relic of the past century that has experienced only incremental changes in its attempt to meet the changing needs of children and society. There is more at stake than grades. The competitive edge for our society demands healthy individuals capable of teamwork, creative thought and authentic purpose- all of which are dependent on connectedness. The Connected Classroom aligns itself with these requirements, but more importantly, it meets the emotional needs of all children as they discover the connected way to live and learn.