I have always been fascinated with space. I enjoy thinking about how our solar system is like other scientific structures. For example, the earth orbits the sun and the sun orbits the center of our galaxy. And, on the surface this reminds me of the conceptual drawings of electrons circling the nucleus of an atom.
But, then my philosophical consciousness kicks in and I begin to question, is the similarity a coincidence or is it part of the limits of our perception? As human beings we seek to understand patterns, this is one of our greatest survival tactics, but does this skill alter our perception?
As an educator I believe we have a responsibly to actively allow our students to ask why and help them find the pathway to discovery. Perception dictates our understanding so, every youth will arrive at a different conclusion based on their own context.
Encouraging our youth to ask why isn’t an unfounded expectation. According to the research from the Dove Beauty Foundation “nearly 8 in 10 (78%) of both women and girls feel some pressure to never make mistakes or show weakness.”
Further complicating matters, according to the National Women’s Law Center “the contrast between “traditional” middle class notions of femininity, which require girls to be passive and modest, and stereotypical images of African American females as loud, confrontational, assertive, and provocative, can generate differing punishments for similar conduct.”
These are serious issues that can be solved by allowing all youth a safe space to ask why. We need to actively work to pair young women and men together, to work cooperatively. We must provide the same opportunities for discovery regardless of race, gender or ethnicity.
We must become aware of our unconscious bias and then work to remove those stereotypes from our perceptions. As we work with youth, we must allow why to serve as a beacon in the pursuit of knowledge and success.
4-H is built around allowing youth the space to inquire, discover and develop expertise. Joining a 4-H club isn’t just a good way to get your children into a situation where they’ll develop positive relationships with youth and adults but, it’s a way to ensure that they have the opportunity to develop investigative skills and to develop a strong sense of self-worth.