Giving Compass' Take:
- Social-emotion learning expert Mylien Duong explains how unity and understanding can be difficult to achieve in the age of technology despite the current political administration's ambitions.
- How can social-emotional learning skills instilled early on help with some of the challenging aspects of building unity? How can schools help children navigate these skills?
- Learn about teaching tolerance in classrooms.
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In his Inaugural Address last month, President Joe Biden spoke at length about unity. He mentioned the word 11 times in his 19-minute speech, as he implored Americans to set aside their differences and come together as one nation.
Biden argued that unity offers the best way forward if our country hopes to heal from the many crises it currently faces.
“With unity we can do great things. Important things,” Biden said. “We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs. We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome this deadly virus. We can reward work, rebuild the middle class and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice. We can make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world.”
That’s a tall order, though. And even Biden admitted the practical challenges.
“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy,” he said. “I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new. Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured.”
Like millions of Americans, Mylien Duong was listening to Biden’s speech that morning. She was getting ready for work on the West Coast while streaming the inauguration ceremony on her laptop in the bathroom, listening to the musical performers, the poet and the new president as she prepared for another work day.
But she noticed something in Biden’s address that most people probably missed. Duong is a clinical psychologist and social-emotional learning research scientist at the nonprofit Committee for Children, and she heard in Biden’s words a plea for people to start listening to each other—with the goal not of changing their minds but of understanding them—and for people to have more empathy for those who are different from us, to resolve our conflicts. This reminded Duong of the work she does in schools, teaching educators and students the importance of those critical social-emotional skills.
On this week’s podcast, Duong discusses how Americans became so divided, what it would take to achieve Biden’s vision of unity, and how the internet is making things like listening to and understanding one another so much more difficult—for adults and children alike.
Read the full article about unity by Emily Tate at EdSurge.