82 16.1: Introduction

Everyone is unique. This simple and somewhat obvious statement has significant implications when we consider the challenges associated with working together, creating community, and collaborative decision-making.

Research on group dynamics has shown that greater degrees of difference in social settings correlate with increased resilience (Lozano, 2007) and even creativity (Simonton, 1999). Page (2007) has further shown that groups that display a diverse range of perspectives and approaches to problem solving usually significantly outperform groups of like-minded experts at solving challenging problems. [253]

This is extremely important to remember in the early childhood education field. We need multiple and differing opinions on children and how to problem solve any challenges that will occur within our time with children.

Question Mark

Think About It…

Could you imagine how care for children in early childhood environments might look if we never had different opinions or thought processes? What would it be like if there weren’t multiple options for families to choose from in the curriculum and environment sense?

The same forms of difference that enhance resiliency, creativity, and ability to solve problems can also lead to significant social challenges and conflict. This is the contradiction of diversity. Throughout history, diversity has provided the raw material for evolution of language, philosophy, and social and material innovation. And at the same time, humans have often used difference (e.g., skin color, spiritual belief systems, sex, learning styles, political affiliation, sexual orientation, etc.) as a basis for oppression and violence. Human history and the present day offer countless examples of persecution on the basis of differences. This history and legacy of oppression has led to a pattern where many forms of difference are culturally isolated and oppressed. In the absence of authentic and reciprocal relationships across difference, we miss out on the potential creativity, adaptability, and resilience that diversity can bring. [254]


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