Hey guys! So once again we’re back with Part 3 of our Gamifying Kindness series. If you haven’t read the first 2 parts but would like to I’ll drop the links for you. I think they’re definitely worth checking out. Not just because I wrote them–although, c’mon, we both know that’s a pretty good reason. LOL–but I really do think the Parents.com article that inspired me had some good points, even though my take on many of them is a bit different.
Also, free to comment suggestions you think would be a good addition & I’ll do my best to cover them.
By Nature, we’re a very social species. Humans thrive best in groups for a reason. As many of you may know, evolution by natural selection works via the occurrence of random mutations. The most advantageous become dominant because organisms with beneficial mutations survive long enough to reproduce. Humans’ ancestors who joined groups or tribes & sought social approval were the ones who survived simply because they had a tribe to protect them, help them hunt, & share other skills & resources. We’re social because we’re descendants of the ones who survived by being social.
At least, that’s how it works to of the best of my knowledge & understanding, having read quite a bit about it & heard many very smart people speak on the topic. In fact, in my opinion, it’s Tim Urban, writer of the Wait But Why blog–hands down my personal favorite blog–who sums it up best in Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think. I’m not sure this was the first time I’d heard the idea, but it was, by far, my favorite & the most entertaining explanation possible. Not only is his writing style incredibly engaging but, in my opinion, reading his blog is the most fun you can have while learning, & I really love learning so that’s saying something! His witty & sarcastic delivery make me feel right at home & I hope someday my own writing is even half as good.
My point is, teamwork is one of the key reasons for our past survival. In my book, that makes it a pretty clutch skill to have. It’s so crucial a trait in fact, that our brains have developed to experience social rejection the same way we experience physical pain! If you’ve ever wondered why feeling left out is so painful, that’s your answer. Our survival is just as dependent on making friends as it is noticing & treating an open wound. So, yeah… Pretty damn important! So you can thank your most distant relatives for your desire to socialize & connect with others.
Obviously, many kids are too young to understand the survival elements, & even if they weren’t, I wouldn’t recommend telling children that they’ll die if nobody will sit with them at lunch. They have enough problems. But it’s important for us, the adults–well… More so than them anyway–to fully understand the importance of teamwork for success in society so we can teach them to value it as well. It’s our job to teach them that, while one voice is easily drowned out in a crowd, each of us only has so much strength, & there’s a limit to how much an individual can accomplish, if we band together our voices can boom, we can lift any weight, & we can accomplish many goals at once.
To illustrate this point, the original Parents.com article suggested using toothpicks to show kids that if you try to break one toothpick it’s easy but if you put a bunch together it’s much harder. While I definitely think they had the right idea, to avoid the hazard of splinters, & because not everybody has a bunch of toothpicks at home, I think paper would work as well. Show them that ripping one sheet is extremely easy, then use a stack to demonstrate how it’s stronger together. You could also use slowly increasing amounts starting with 1, then 3, 5, 10, etc.
Another fun demonstration, for the more adventurous parents, would be using paper mache. You could show them that one piece is incredibly weak but when many of them are held together by the bond of friendship, they’re much stronger. It’s a great visual example of how the “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” by depicting that when they work in unison, they’re much stronger than even multiplying their individual strength by the quantity. I feel like that’s the best metaphor.
As for the gamifying aspect, building blocks would probably work especially well. You can assign different parts of a larger project to each child & have them work individually, then come together to assemble the finished product to portray how, if they work toward the same goal, it can be bigger, better, & faster. If you try this at home, make sure to leave a comment on how it went, what problems, if any, arose, & what you think would make it better.
If anyone has alternate suggestions for a different game to introduce the lesson, I’d love to hear what guys come up with! If you actually do your version at home & have photos or video, even better! If you send them to me with a description or instructions I’ll even update the post with them or create a separate linked post if we get enough of them.
That’s all for today. Be sure to check in again next week for Part 4 on responsibility. Let’s keep proving that learning really can be fun by showing the world the value of quality edutainment! Lol & yes, I created that image because using that word makes me laugh & sometimes, happiness is the ability to enjoy the little things… Or the nothings LOL.
Until next time…