In the beginning was the deed, indeed. We learn and pass on culture through practices (cooking, celebrating birthdays, crying in public or not). Working together, doing together helps us see unfamiliar others as human first, different from ourselves second. This is, I think, the operation that Rebecca Solnit wrote about in her book about the civilizing effect of disasters, how trouble can work to bring unlikely people into harmony. Magnet schools are a practice that puts this idea into action. I teach at an urban school that draws half its students from the city, and half from 25-30 different ring towns. Children from a wide variety of economic, ethnic, religious, and educational back grounds work together in classes, in band, in chorus, in the school play, on the track team. Because we draw students from such a wide area, children need not change schools when they move. Serendipitously, social media helps these students who live in different neighborhoods to strengthen and sustain their friendships. But first, it's the doing together that builds the human connections.
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