Thanks to my dear colleague Alondra Nelson for bringing this post to my attention and introducing me to Paul’s work. Paul’s insights in this post are spot on and this is something that I have felt myself as a student and observed countless times as an educator. And quite frankly, try as we might as educators, we do not always succeed in making students feel as they belong in our classrooms, or better yet, in that exalted sphere of “promising” “gifted” etc. students.
The level of comfort we feel in another person’s presence can powerfully influence how intelligent we feel, and in some sense, how intelligent we actually are, at least in that moment. Now multiply that one-on-one interaction by tens or hundreds, and you start to get a sense of how important a sense of belonging to a learning community can be.