There is an old quote that states, “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.” This is such a true sentiment and certainly applies to the connections we have and continue to make. Whether those connections are with other people, ideas, content knowledge, or experiences, it is that ability to make connections and links that support our learning and habits.
Consider this—if you as a small child had not made the connection between the feeling of heat and being burned, you would continue to go around and touch every hot thing (often getting burned in the process) because you did not get the connection between the feeling of heat and getting burned. Hollywood has made several films on this inability to make connections. 50 First Dates is one of them. The Drew Barrymore character had no ability to transfer short term memory experiences into long term memory. As a result, she was trapped reliving the same day over and over. Her family, trying to save her from the daily trauma of realizing she can’t remember the day before, played along and relived the same day over and over along with her. Another film is Groundhog Day. In this film the Bill Murray character, a weatherman, finds himself living the same day over and over, much to his dismay. The Family Man with Nicholas Cage was another take on the notion of connection and had a fast-lane Cage make a connection with being a family man in an alternative life, and the ever-popular It’s A Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart allowed the main character to view the world had he not been there.
Making connections—in reality or through vicarious means—is important. Helping youth see how things are connected is important as they are preparing to participate in a global environment and community. Looking for common ground will become an essential skill as we connect with people from other countries, religions, cultures, and points of view. One strategy you can use on a regular basis to help youth make connections is debriefing. Debriefing helps youth see how the experience connects to other experiences and attach that learning in the brain—making the learning, sticky.
Too often we view learning in silos. How can you connect what you do in the afterschool space with the school day , the community, and the family?