today in my schools and society class we, in a roundabout way, talked about diversity and how it relates to schools. we discussed particularly high schools and higher education settings.
i realized something i do miss about my first three semesters of college. while many students at lipscomb were from a similar socioeconomic background and there were many large groups of students from select areas, the campus was diverse (at least the freshman class was, because many of the ‘diverse’ students transferred, but that’s another story for another time). those of you who went there will laugh at that statement because we often associate diversity simply with race or socioeconomic status. i want to take diversity to a higher level for the sake of this note, i want to apply it to ideologies/mindsets and discuss why i think small schools allow students to leave college with a much more diverse group of friends than their high school group was.
sidenote: the question was posed today in class “think about your group of friends throughout your k-12 schooling and think about the group(s) of friends you have/have had in college. are your college friends more or less diverse? or are they about the same with respects to diversity?”
i would say my group of friends is more diverse. and i would attribute that diversity almost exclusively to the small school in a city atmosphere that lipscomb created. i don’t think it was specifically lipscomb that created this diversity, i think it was its’ placement in a city and the fact that its students were from across the country and globe.
no one can argue that geography influences how you think about certain issues. (i don’t exclusively mean political). no one can argue that northerners are different than southerners and even westerners are different from both. different cultures create different ideologies. that’s a fact. at a small school, students are often from differing parts of the country, and while some may have a group of friends when entering college, many do not. this allows students to ‘start over’ and it requires each student to delve deep into themselves and figure out who they are because they have to make friends, but in order to do that, you will learn things you like and dislike, and will recognize the complements and counters to those in others. small schools force you to do this in a way larger state schools will never be able to. at a large school, you can sit out of the crowd completely, get drowned in it, and many students can simply extend their high school group of friends to college (not that this is completely bad).
because small schools have students from around the country and are more concentrated environments, they often initiate ‘icebreaker’ activities to allow students to develop relationships with ‘strangers.’
diversity is present across student bodies at large and small schools, but at larger schools there will likely be either a dominant and a minority group or several distinctly different groups who are able to operate independently without much interaction with the other groups. this does not facilitate open forum type thinking and does not facilitate learning about different cultures and ideologies, which is key to being a well rounded and informed person. i would go further to say taht i think this is key to being a competent person who can have intelligent conversations with those around him or her. i think it is necessary in life to be able to interact with anyone you encounter and recognize that the other person will have differing views, that’s ok, but we need to recognize those ideas and respect them. we can challenge them. we can disagree. we can even present our argument and discuss how we ours as more valid and have an intelligent, respectful ideological debate. but if we do not ever get out of our comfort zones and out of our bubbles and see what else is out there, i honestly do not consider you to be highly intelligent. i consider people who refuse to discuss with people they disagree with ignorant. i consider people who, by choice, never encounter opposing or differing views or people to be ignorant as well.
diversity is necessary.
melting pot groups are a beautiful thing.
they allow the presence of diverse ideologies, races, socioeconomic statuses, etc in a manner that facilitates a deeper and more beautiful understanding of the human race.
smaller schools, where interaction is initially forced and continually required facilitate this, which creates (in theory) more well rounded people. larger schools can try to do this, but larger schools may often lack community, which is necessary to this diversity and respect for diverse ideologies.
i’m not saying i miss lipscomb itself, but i do miss the environment nestled within a diverse city filled with people from all around the country and globe that allowed students to explore themselves at a deep and often spiritual level by creating opportunities within the community to get to know and pour into people who are different from you.
life is not about being comfortable and hanging out with people exactly like you, it’s about getting out of your comfort zone and finding similarities and building relationships with people you once viewed as ‘different’ from you.
ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS ADDED LATER: i am not putting lipscomb up on a pedestal by any means. my parentheses about how many of the ‘diverse’ students transfer after freshman year illustrates that (in my mind) and i was merely using it as the example small school, not the perfect small school. the diversity in my mind was because schools within cities draw more diverse freshman classes than schools in rural areas such as lee or harding. when i mentioned ‘diverse’ students leaving after freshman year, that’s one of the reasons why i left. few of my close friends are still at lipscomb, several are because it had their limited program, they had full rides, or any other reason, but i saw many students leave after a year or maybe 2 because they realized that the teachings of the school do not cater to a diverse mindset. the atmosphere and location do, but the actual academics do not.
and on the note of ‘diversity’, i thought or at least meant to preface my note by saying that i think diversity within groups pertains to any differences, rather those be race, gender, sexual orientation, weight, ability, language, culture, or ideology, but i focused mostly on ideology for the purpose of my note. if i wanted to limit the definition, yes lipscomb is not racially diverse, but many of the freshman are ideologically diverse. by senior year this diversity has often left the campus because of the reasons stated above but as i said, thats another story and that’s in the past, i dont know how the school is now, ive heard its about the same but i cannot judge that.
i was focusing on ideologies and how smaller schools have smaller communities where you are often forced out of your comfort zone more than if you were at a larger school. larger schools in themselves force people out of comfort zones but because there are so many more students, many students can find a group to associate with that is like the group they have grown up in if they choose to, thus getting back into the comfort zone they are used to. this is not always the case at a small school. that’s what i was trying to say….